FBI identifies British national as speculate who took hostages at Colley…

FBI identifies British national as speculate who took hostages at Colley…




The FBI identified the speculate who took four people hostage Saturday at a Colleyville, Texas, synagogue as Malik Faisal Akram, 44. Authorities said Saturday night that Akram had died, while all four hostages made it out alive.

Akram was a British citizen, the FBI said. He arrived to the U.S. two weeks ago via New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, a federal law enforcement source told CBS News.

British police said late Sunday that the counter terrorism unit arrested two teenagers in South Manchester in relation to the Colleyville incident. They remained in custody for questioning as of Sunday night.

Two U.S. officials told CBS News that Akram did not appear on any U.S. terror watch lists, although they are nevertheless looking and working on name differentiations. The FBI is investigating if he had any help in the U.S. 

Officials are also assessing the speculate’s mental health.  

Federal law enforcement investigating the scene have not however discovered if any explosive material was found on the speculate, a senior federal law enforcement source told CBS News. Federal courts do not show a criminal history for the speculate.   

Police cars keep parked at Good Shepherd Catholic Community church on January 15, 2022, in Colleyville, Texas. Emil Lippe / Getty Images

Authorities said the speculate took four people hostages during sets on Saturday morning, which was being broadcast on a livestream. The speculate could be heard ranting on the livestream, CBS Dallas-Fort Worth reports.

Four hostages were held inside the synagogue for hours, with one male hostage being released around 7:30 p.m. ET. Shortly after 10:30 p.m., Texas Governor Greg Abbott said the remaining three hostages were “out alive and safe.”

Authorities said shortly afterward that the speculate was dead. 

Authorities did not show a specific motive, but the FBI said it believes the hostage-taker was “particularly focused on one issue, and it was not specifically related to the Jewish community.” A source close to the incident told CBS News that they believe the hostage-taker had asked for the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani woman serving an 86-year sentence in federal prison for trying to kill U.S. officers in Afghanistan.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan called the incident an “act of terrorism” and an “act of anti-Semitism” in an interview on “confront the Nation” Sunday morning.

“We have the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and law enforcement and intelligence agencies working intensively to get a complete picture of what this person’s motives were and whether or not there are any further connections,” Sullivan said.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas tweeted Sunday that the “immediate crisis is over. however the fear of rising antisemitism remains.”

“We must answer hate with action & ensure synagogues and all houses of worship are sanctuaries of safety, Shabbat and other days of faithful observance a time of peace, and America a place of freedom for all,” Mayorkas wrote. 

Mayorkas told CBS News that the Department of Homeland Security is “not aware at this time of any specific credible threat” against other places of worship or institutions related to the incident. He said federal law enforcement is “monitoring social media traffic” for indications of any inspired “copycat” events.

“We are monitoring social media traffic,” Mayorkas said. “We have in the past seen incidents of violence be the subject of communications and efforts by those who seek to do us harm to inspire a copycat. But we are not seeing any specific, credible threat at this time.”  

FBI Dallas special agent in charge Matthew DeSarno said Saturday night that there is no indication of “any kind of current threat.” He said the FBI will continue investigating the hostage-taker, and noted that the investigation would have “global reach.” 

Mayorkas said on Sunday that he called the wife of Congregation Beth Israel’s rabbi on Saturday. At that time, he also spoke with Sheikh Omar Suleiman, president of the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research institution, who was with the rabbi’s wife and other faith leaders at the time. 

“They presented a shining example of a basic rule: an act of hate, an act of violence that targets a particular group victimizes us all,” he said.

Mayorkas confirmed that Beth Israel Synagogue has received Homeland Security grant funding by the nonprofit security grant program.   

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker of Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville posted on Facebook on Sunday that he is “thankful” for the law enforcement and security training. 

“I am grateful that we made it out,” he wrote. “I am grateful to be alive.”

Jordan Freiman contributed to this report.

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