The Texas synagogue hostage-taker was in shelters in the area



An armed man who took four people hostage during a 10-hour standstill at a Texas synagogue had spent time at homeless shelters in the area for two weeks before the incident. attack, and got someone he knew.

Malik Faisal Akram, a 44-year-old British citizen identified by authorities as a hostage taker, was taken to a shelter in downtown Dallas on January 2 by a man who hugged him and chat with him, said Wayne Walker, CEO. and the pastor of OurCalling, which provides services to the homeless.

“He was dumped by someone who appeared to be related to him,” said Walker, who said they turned over photos and videos to the FBI.

An FBI spokesman said late Monday that it did not have any verifiable information about Akram’s stay at the OurCalling facility. The agency said there was no initial indication that anyone else was involved in the hostage-taking.

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker told “CBS Mornings” he will let Akram into Beth Israel Congregation on Saturday morning because he appears to need shelter. The Synagogue is located in Colleyville, a city of about 26,000 people located 30 miles (48 km) northwest of Dallas.

Cytron-Walker said the man wasn’t threatening or suspicious at first, but then he heard gunshots while he was praying.

The rabbi and three other men were participating in the live-streamed service when they were taken hostage. The first hostage was released shortly before 5 p.m. Cytron-Walker and two others escaped around 9 p.m., when Cytron-Walker threw a chair at the gunman.

“The exit isn’t too far,” said Cytron-Walker. “I told them to go. I threw a chair at the gunman, and I headed for the door. And all three of us were able to get out without a shot.”

Akram was killed after the hostages ran out. Authorities declined to say who shot Akram, saying it was still under investigation.

Video of the end of the stalemate from Dallas television station WFAA shows people running out the door of the synagogue, and then a man with a gun opening the same door seconds later before he turns. back and close it. Moments later, several gunshots and then an explosion rang out.

The FBI on Sunday night released a statement calling the ordeal “a terrorism-related issue in which the Jewish community is targeted” and said the Joint Terrorism Task Force is investigating. check. The agency noted that Akram spoke several times during the negotiations about a prisoner serving an 86-year sentence in the US. The statement followed Saturday’s comment from the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Dallas field office that the hostage-taker was focused on an issue “Not specifically related to the Jewish community.”

Akram can be heard going live on Facebook about the services and demanding the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist suspected of having ties to al-Qaida, who was found guilty of attempting to kill the terrorists. US military officer in Afghanistan.

“About the last hour of the stalemate, he didn’t get what he wanted. It doesn’t look good. It doesn’t sound good. We were absolutely terrified,” Cytron-Walker told “CBS Mornings.”

At a service held Monday night at a nearby Methodist church, Cytron-Walker said the amount of “best wishes and kindness and compassion” had been overwhelming.

“Thank you for all the compassion from the bottom of my heart,” Cytron-Walker said.

“Even though very few of us are doing well right now, we will get through this,” he said.

The investigation extends to Britain, where Manchester police announced late on Sunday that two teenagers were being held in connection with the standoff. Greater Manchester Police tweeted that counter-terrorism officers had made the arrest but did not say if the pair faced any charges.

Two US law enforcement officials told the Associated Press that the teenagers were Akram’s sons. Investigators believe Akram communicated with his sons in the hours before the standoff and is working to discern what information he may have shared with them, one of the officials said. know. Officials could not publicly discuss the ongoing investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.

British media, including the Guardian, reported on Tuesday that Akram had been investigated by the domestic security agency MI5 as a possible “terrorist threat” in 2020. The investigation was closed. after authorities concluded that Akram posed no threat, reports said.

The UK Home Office did not immediately comment on the reports.

President Joe Biden called the episode an act of terrorism. Speaking to reporters in Philadelphia on Sunday, Biden said Akram allegedly bought weapons on the street.

Federal investigators believe Akram purchased the handgun used in the hostage-taking in a private sale, according to a person familiar with the matter who declined to be named because the investigation is ongoing. Akram arrived in the US at Kennedy Airport in New York about two weeks ago, a law enforcement official said.

Akram came to the US on a tourist visa from the UK, according to a US official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the information was not intended to be made public. London’s Metropolitan Police said its counterterrorism police were working with US authorities.

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel told the House of Commons on Monday that she had spoken to her US counterpart, Alejandro Mayorkas, and offered the “full support” of the police and security services in He is in the investigation.

After staying at the OurCalling facility on January 2, he stayed at another homeless shelter in Dallas.

Akram stayed three nights from January 6 to January 13 at the Union Celebrate Mission Dallas, the homeless shelter’s CEO, Bruce Butler, told CNN. According to their records, Akram left there for the last time on January 13 – two days before he took hostages at the synagogue.

Akram used his phone during the negotiations to communicate with non-law enforcement officials, according to a law enforcement official who was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation. out by name and speak on condition of anonymity.

It is not clear why Akram chose the synagogue, although the prison where Siddiqui is serving his sentence is located in Fort Worth.

A Texas attorney who represents Siddiqui said Monday that Siddiqui has no connection to Akram.

“She said from the outset when she was convicted that she did not want any acts of violence committed in her name and that she does not accept any form of violence perpetrated.” Attorney Marwa El baseballly said.

Akram, who is known as Faisal by his family, is from Blackburn, an industrial city in north-west England. His family says he has “suffered mental health issues.”

“We would also like to add that any attack against any human being, whether Jewish, Christian or Muslim, etc. is wrong and should always be condemned,” his brother said. his, Gulbar Akram, writes.


Stengle reporting from Dallas and Tucker reporting from Washington, DC Also contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Paul J. Weber and Acacia Coronado of Austin; Michael Balsamo in Washington; and Danica Kirka and Sylvia Hui in London.

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