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Texas Synagogue Hostage-Taking Being Investigated as a ‘Hate Crime’ and ‘Act of Terrorism,’ FBI Says


Nearly a week after a British man held four Jewish men hostage inside a Texas synagogue on the Sabbath, the FBI announced that it is investigating the incident as a “hate crime” and an “act of terrorism.”

The announcement falls a day after U.K. authorities arrested two men in Birmingham and Manchester in connection with the attack.

Also on Friday, a medical examiner released a report showing the perpetrator died of multiple gunshot wounds.

After an 11-hour standoff, an FBI team shot and killed Malik Faisal Akram, a British Muslim man who took a rabbi and four congregants hostage at a Texas synagogue, authorities said on Friday.

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker had thrown a chair at Akram, enabling their escape, officials said, according to The Independent. Matthew DeSarno, special agent in charge of the FBI Dallas field office, described Akram as a “terrorist disposing of an anti-Semitic worldview.” He lived with mental health issues, his family has said.

“[Akram’s] actions clearly met the definition of terrorism,” DeSarno said.

Rabbi Cytron-Walker, one of the hostages at Congregation Beth Israel in the city of Colleyville, said he began to worry when Akram suddenly became very calm.

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker speaking about the Jan. 15, 2022 hostage situation at Congregation Beth Israel.

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker telling reporters about the Jan. 15, 2022 hostage situation at Congregation Beth Israel.

“He went from extremely agitated with the negotiator to extremely calm, just asking me for juice,” he said at a press conference. “I was highly, highly concerned at that moment, but fortunately that gave us the opportunity… that we took advantage of.”

Authorities have said none of the four hostages received injuries in the 11-hour standoff. As previously reported, Akram took control of the building during a synagogue livestream. His reported statements indicated he wanted to free neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui, who was convicted of trying to kill and assault U.S. officers and employees in Afghanistan years ago. Siddiqui’s antisemitic rantings were a hallmark of her trial, where she requested for jurors to be forced to submit to DNA screening to see if they were Jewish. She peddled 9/11 conspiracy theories at her sentencing, where she was dealt an 86-year term.

She is serving that sentence inside FMC Carswell, a federal prison in nearby Fort Worth. DeSarno did not name the inmate that Akram wanted to free.

Akram made his intentions clear in a phone call to his brother.

“Yeah, I’m in America,” he said. “I thought I’d just kiss my last goodbye to you.”

Asked what happened, he said he took hostages at a synagogue. He was surrounded, he said. He refused to immediately answer when asked why he did it but said he was going to die.

“Don’t worry about that,” he said. “You don’t worry about what I’m doing, yeah. You do what you got to do. I’ve come to die.”

He insisted it wasn’t a sin.

“I promised my brother when I watched him on that death bed that I’m gonna go down as a martyr,” he said. “I’m gonna let no motherfuckers suppress me.”

“I’ve got four beautiful guys, Jewish guys with me,” suspect Akram said. “They’re trying to play ball with me. I told them bring her [Siddiqui] here. She’s got 84 years. They talking to her because I’m near the prison FMC Carswell.”

He repeatedly said he was going to die there.

“Shoot me dead,” he said. “Shoot her dead. Because I’m dead and she’s dead. She’s [in prison for] 84 years right? They fucking framed her, but you know what I’ve just rang you to say yirah if I’ve done anything wrong to you I’m sorry. I’ve told my kids to man up and don’t fucking cry at my funeral.”

He criticized United States for invading Afghanistan.

“They let James Foley die,” he said, mentioning the journalist who ISIS members beheaded in 2014. “They let him die and they didn’t release her but guess what? Maybe they’ll have compassion for fucking Jews.”

[Screenshot via ABC]

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