Homeland Security Network Blog
FBI investigating Texas synagogue attack as terrorism
FBI investigating Texas synagogue attack as terrorism as U.K. takes two teens into custody
By Jennifer Hassan and William Booth
LONDON — The FBI is investigating the Texas synagogue attack, in which an armed British citizen took four people hostage, as a terrorist incident — while police in northwestern England took two teenagers into custody for questioning as part of the investigation that now spans two countries.
Malik Faisal Akram, a resident of the United Kingdom, held a rabbi and three congregants hostage during Saturday services at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, a suburb of Fort Worth and Dallas. The 11-hour standoff ended with the hostages freed and Akram dead, although it remains unclear whether the 44-year-old was killed by police or took his own life.
“This is a terrorism-related matter, in which the Jewish community was targeted, and is being investigated by the Joint Terrorism Task Force,” the FBI said in a statement emailed to The Washington Post early Monday. “We never lose sight of the threat extremists pose to the Jewish community and to other religious, racial, and ethnic groups.”
President Biden on Sunday called Akram’s actions an “act of terror.” A spokesman for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the incident was “a terrible and anti-Semitic act of terrorism,” Reuters reported.
During the standoff, Akram repeatedly referenced Aafia Siddiqui, an American-educated Pakistani woman widely known as “Lady al-Qaeda” who was convicted on terrorism charges in 2010. People who heard him on the live stream of services, which carried part of the ordeal, said Akram chose this place because it appeared to be the closest gathering of Jews to a federal facility in Fort Worth where Siddiqui is being held on an 86-year sentence for trying to kill U.S. soldiers.
Akram, who could be heard saying he targeted the synagogue because the United States “only cares about Jewish lives,” called for Siddiqui to be released. He referred to her as “my sister,” seemingly as an expression of solidarity because her relatives say they were not related, asking to see her and saying they would rise together to Jannah, the Muslim paradise where the faithful are taken after Judgment Day.
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