The hostage-taker was killed when FBI agents stormed the building, while a rabbi and three others who were held captive were unharmed. The FBI identifies the perpetrator as 44-year-old British citizen Malik Faisal Akram.
“At this point, there is no indication that other people were involved,” the FBI’s Dallas office said in a statement.
It is unclear why the Beth Israel Synagogue in Colleyville, Texas was the target of the operation, but President Joe Biden stated on Sunday that it was an act of terrorism.
“This was a terrorist act related to someone who was arrested 15 years ago and has been imprisoned for 10 years,” Biden told the press.
Britain also condemns what Foreign Minister Liz Truss describes as an anti-Semitic act of terrorism.
The attack started while Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker was holding a service posted on Facebook Saturday morning local time.
Those who followed the transmission could hear the perpetrator speak loudly, possibly with the police, before the broadcast was stopped. The perpetrator is said to have been armed and claimed that he had placed a bomb. He made tirades against the United States, according to one of those who followed the broadcast.
Special agent Matt DeSarno from the FBI states that the man was involved in a case that is not related to the Jewish community. There is also no indication that the attack was part of a larger plan, according to him. The man has been identified, and on Sunday the police went out with the name.
Other police sources, who did not want to be named, state that the man demanded that a woman named Aafia Siddiqui be released. He referred to her as his sister, but there are many indications that this is meant in a figurative sense.
Convicted of attempted murder
Siddiqui is imprisoned in the federal Fort Worth Prison, located a few miles from the town where the synagogue attack took place. The 49-year-old Pakistani holds a doctorate in neuroscience from the United States, but ended up in the authorities’ spotlight after the 9/11 attacks in 2001 and was suspected of working for al-Qaeda.
In 2010, she was sentenced to 86 years in prison for attempted murder of US officers in Afghanistan while in a US prison camp there.
The Pakistani government is involved in her case, and for many she is an innocent victim of the US war on terror. Her supporters often refer to her as a sister.
Lawyer John Floyd, who represents Siddiqui’s biological brother, says the brother has nothing to do with the attack.
“We want the attacker to know that his actions are malicious and undermine us who seek justice for Aafia,” said Floyd, who is affiliated with a Muslim civil rights organization.
Explosion and shot
The hostage action lasted for over ten hours. At 9.30pm on Saturday night local time Governor Greg Abbott announced that all the hostages had been released. Half an hour later, police confirmed that the hostage-taker was dead.
Just before Abbott’s announcement, reporters at the synagogue reported a loud explosion and the sound of gunfire. According to CBS, the hostage-taker was shot.
President Biden praised the police officers who handled the situation.
– Let me be clear to anyone who wants to spread hatred: We will oppose anti-Semitism and extremism in this country, declared he shortly after the attack was over Saturday.