All four hostages taken after a more than ten-hour siege at a Texas synagogue have been released unhurt, authorities confirmed late Saturday, and their presumed kidnapper has been killed.
Foreign media reported Sunday that authorities identified 44-year-old British national Malik Faisal Akram as the man who held four people, hostage for ten hours in a Texas synagogue before an FBI SWAT team stormed the building, ending a tense standoff that President Joe Biden described as "an act of terror."
Akram was shot and killed shortly after the last prisoner was freed at Congregation Beth Israel outside Fort Worth on Saturday at 9 p.m. The FBI stated that there was no indication of additional involvement but did not identify a possible motive.
Akram was heard yelling on a Facebook Livestream of the services, demanding the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist convicted of attempting to assassinate US Army personnel in Afghanistan.
On Saturday night, the FBI and police spokeswomen declined to answer who shot Akram after the standoff ended.
According to ABC News, the hostage-taker was armed and claimed to have bombs hidden in various areas. Although Colleyville police chief Michael Miller stated that "bomb technicians are cleaning the site," police have not confirmed this. According to ABC, the man was seeking the release of Aafia Siddiqui, citing a US official briefed on the subject.
People sprinting out of a synagogue door were captured on video by Dallas television station WFAA, followed by a man brandishing a pistol opening the same door seconds later before turning back and closing it. Several rounds of gunfire were heard moments later, followed by the sound of an explosion.
"Relax, we are focused," Biden declared Sunday morning during a visit to a Philadelphia food bank. "The attorney general is focused on ensuring that we prosecute these kind of crimes."
Biden stated that the suspect obtained guns on the street and may have been in the country for only a few weeks. US Immigration and Customs Enforcement did not react Sunday quickly to inquiries concerning Akram's immigration status and past. The Metropolitan Police in London stated that its counter-terrorism unit was in contact with US officials over the event.
According to FBI Special Agent in Charge Matt DeSarno, the hostage-taker focused solely on an issue unrelated to the Jewish community. There was no early indication that the guy was part of a larger plot.
However, DeSarno stated that the agency's inquiry "would be global in scope." Law enforcement officials who were not authorized to speak publicly about the ongoing investigation and spoke on the condition of anonymity previously stated that the hostage-taker demanded the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist suspected of having ties to al-Qaeda and currently being held in a federal prison in Texas.
According to officials, he reportedly stated that he desired the ability to communicate with her, one of whom confirmed the hostage-nationality. taker's
A law enforcement official claimed a rabbi in New York City received a call demanding Siddiqui's release from the rabbi believed to be taken hostage at the synagogue. The rabbi in New York then dialed 911.
Police were initially alerted to the synagogue at 11 a.m., and residents of the neighboring neighborhood were evacuated shortly after that, FBI Dallas spokesperson Katie Chaumont said. Saturday's services were live-streamed on the synagogue's Facebook page for a period.
According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, an agitated guy could be heard yelling and discussing religion at times during the Livestream, which did not include footage from within the synagogue.
"You've got to do something," the man remarked shortly before 2 p.m. I'm not interested in seeing this guy die." Moments afterward, the feed was disconnected. Later in the day, a spokeswoman for Meta Platforms Inc., the corporate successor to Facebook Inc., verified that Facebook had removed the video.
Multiple witnesses heard the hostage-taker refer to Siddiqui as his "sister." However, John Floyd, board chair of the Council on American-Islamic Relations' Houston branch — the nation's largest Muslim advocacy organization — stated that Siddiqui's brother, Mohammad Siddiqui, was not participating.
"This assailant had no connection to Dr. Aafia, her family, or the global cause for Dr Aafia's justice. We want the attacker to understand that his actions are heinous and directly undercut those of us pursuing justice for Dr. Aafia," added Floyd. The latter is also Mohammad Siddiqui's legal counsel. "We have verified that the family member falsely accused of this horrible act does not live in the DFW Metroplex."