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Hostage safe after deadlock inside Texas synagogue

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COLLEYVILLE, Texas (AP) – A man held hostages for more than 10 hours Saturday at a Texas synagogue, where he could be heard screaming during a live stream and demanded the release of a Pakistani neuroscientist convicted of attempting to kill US Army officers in Afghanistan.

One of the four hostages held at Beth Israel Congregation in Colleyville was released during the standoff; Three other people were rescued when authorities entered the building around 9 p.m., authorities said. The hostage-taker has been killed and FBI Special Agent Matt DeSarno said a team will investigate the “shooting”.

The FBI and a police spokeswoman declined to answer questions about who shot the man.

DeSarno said the hostage-taker was specifically focused on an issue that was not directly related to the Jewish community and there was no immediate indication that the man was part of any broader scheme. but DeSarno said the agency’s investigation “will have a global reach”.

Law enforcement officials are not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity earlier to say that the hostage-taker had requested the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a scientist. Pakistani psychopath suspected of having ties to al-Qaida. He also said he wanted to be able to talk to her, according to officials. Siddiqui is in a federal prison in Texas.

DeSarno said Saturday night that the man had been identified “but we are not prepared to release his identity or confirm his identity at this time.”

A rabbi in New York City received a call from a rabbi believed to be held hostage in a synagogue to request the release of Siddiqui, a law enforcement official. law said. Then the rabbi in New York called 911.

FBI Dallas spokeswoman Katie Chaumont said police were first called to the synagogue around 11 a.m. and people were evacuated from the vicinity shortly thereafter.

The services have been live on the synagogue’s Facebook page for some time. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that an angry man can sometimes be heard shouting and talking about religion during the live stream, which does not indicate what is happening inside the synagogue.

Not long before 2 p.m., the man said, “You have to do something. I don’t want to see this guy die.” After a while, the feed was cut off. A spokesperson for the company Meta later confirmed that Facebook had taken down the video.

Many people heard the hostage-taker calling Siddiqui his “sister” on a live stream, but Faizan Syed, executive director of the Council on American-Muslim Relations in Dallas Fort-Worth Texas, told the Associated Press that Siddiqui’s brother, Mohammad Siddiqui, was not involved. Syed said CAIR’s support and prayers are with those detained in the synagogue.

Victoria Francis, of Texas, told the AP she watched the live stream about an hour before it was cut. She said she heard the man against America and insisted he had a bomb.

“He was just everywhere on the map. He’s pretty cranky and the more irritable he gets, the more threats he’ll make, like ‘I’m the bomb man. If you make a mistake, it’s all your fault. ‘ And he would laugh at it,” she said. “He is clearly in a state of extreme distress.”

Francis, who grew up near Colleyville, watched after she read about the hostage situation. She said it appeared the man was on the phone with the police department, with the rabbi and another person trying to help negotiate.

Colleyville, a community of about 26,000 people, is about 15 miles northeast of Fort Worth. The synagogue is nestled among large houses in a tree-lined residential area that includes several churches, a middle and elementary school and a horse farm.

Beth Israel Congregation is led by Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who has been there since 2006 as the synagogue’s first full-time rabbi. According to his bio, he has worked to bring a sense of spirituality, compassion and learning to the community, and he loves to welcome everyone, including LGBT people, into church.

Anna Salton Eisen, founder and former president of the synagogue, said the congregation has about 140 members and Cytron-Walker has worked hard to build interfaith relationships in the community. , including swapping podiums and participating in a community peace walk. She described Saturday’s events as “surreal.”

“This is unlike anything we have ever experienced. You know, it’s a small town and it’s a small congregation,” Eisen said as the hostage situation unfolded. “No matter how things turn out, it’s hard to understand how we’ll all be changed by this, because for sure we will.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted Saturday night that President Joe Biden has been briefed and is receiving updates from senior officials.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said he was closely monitoring the situation. “We pray for the safety of the hostages and rescuers,” he wrote on Twitter.

CAIR, the nation’s largest Muslim advocacy group, condemned the attack on Saturday afternoon.

CAIR National Deputy Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell said in a statement: “This latest insect attack at a house of worship is an unacceptable act of evil. “We stand in solidarity with the Jewish community, and we pray that law enforcement can release the hostages quickly and safely. No cause can justify or excuse this crime.”

Siddiqui earned advanced degrees from Brandeis University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology before she was sentenced to 86 years in prison in 2010 for assaulting and shooting US Army officers after being held in Afghanistan for two years. before. The punishment has sparked outrage in Pakistan among political leaders and her supporters, who see her as a victim of the American criminal justice system.

In the years since, Pakistani officials have expressed public interest in any sort of deal or swap that could lead to her release from US custody and her case. she continues to attract attention from supporters. For example, in 2018, an Ohio man who prosecutors said had planned to fly to Texas and attack the prison where Siddiqui was being held to free her was sentenced to 22 years in prison. .

https://www.yourbasin.com/political/police-one-hostage-released-unharmed-from-texas-synagogue/ Hostage safe after deadlock inside Texas synagogue

Aila Slisco

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