British national behind Texas synagogue hostage drama shot dead

Wednesday 19th January 2022 06:03 EST

Texas: A man who took four hostages at a synagogue in a suburb of Dallas, Texas, has been identified by the FBI as British citizen Malik Faisal Akram, 44. The man was shot and killed after a 10-hour standoff with police. All of the hostages at the Congregation Beth Israel were freed unharmed.

US President Joe Biden called the hostage-taking an "act of terror" and the UK condemned the attack. British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss described it as an "act of terrorism and anti-Semitism", adding: "We stand with US in defending the rights and freedoms of our citizens against those who spread hate."

There is currently no indication that others were involved, the FBI in Dallas said. Police sources say that no explosive material was found on the attacker's body. A brother of Malik Faisal Akram issued a statement apologising to the victims and saying he had been suffering from "mental health issues".

Among the hostages was the synagogue's rabbi. One was released after six hours with the other three being led to safety by police several hours later. The attacker gained initial access to the synagogue during the service by claiming to be a homeless man, according to a police source.

The hostage-taker was heard demanding the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist who is currently serving an 86-year prison term in the US, law enforcement officials said. Siddiqui was convicted of trying to kill US military officers while in custody in Afghanistan. Thousands took to the streets in Pakistan to protest against her conviction in 2010.

After the Islamic State (IS) group kidnapped American journalist James Foley in Syria in 2012, they emailed his family demanding the release of Siddiqui. A lawyer representing Siddiqui said that the hostage-taker was not her brother, saying Siddiqui's family condemned his "heinous" actions.

In the UK, counter-terrorist police confirmed that Malik Faisal Akram was originally from the Blackburn area of Lancashire. They said that it was assisting with the US-led investigation into the attack. The dead man's brother Gulbar confirmed his death in a statement carried by Blackburn Muslim Community.

Gulbar said he had liaised "with Faisal, the negotiators, FBI etc" during the siege but "there was nothing we could have said to him or done that would have convinced him to surrender".

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