On Sunday, the identity of the man who took a rabbi and others hostage at the Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, has been identified as a British citizen.
As reported by Danielle Wallace with Fox News, the man’s name is Malik Faisal Akram, a 44-year-old British citizen, according to Special Agent in Charge Matthew DeSarno with the FBI Dallas Field Office who confirmed as much in an email to Fox News Digital.?Update:
After nearly 12 hours of a hostage standoff situation at the Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, all hostages have been released and are safe. One hostage had also been released earlier in the evening.
According to the Associated Press, the hostage-take was declared dead.
Prayers answered.— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) January 16, 2022
All hostages are out alive and safe.
Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) tweeted from his personal account at 10:33pm that "All hostages are out alive and safe."
On Saturday, a man took several people hostage at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas. As of Saturday evening, there have been no reported injuries, and one man who was being held hostage has been released unharmed, to be reunited with his family.
Local police have been on the scene since Saturday morning, as have hostage negotiators, the FBI and a SWAT team.
We are currently conducting SWAT operations around the 6100 block of Pleasant Run Rd. All residents in the immediate area are being evacuated. Please avoid the area.— Colleyville Police (@ColleyvillePD) January 15, 2022
Disturbingly, services had been live-streamed when a man took people hostage. As Adam Sabes reported for Fox News:
The congregation had a Facebook livestream on its Facebook page for a service that had started three hours prior. The livestream has since been disabled.
Before the live stream was disabled, a man could be heard repeatedly saying "I will die."
"I'm going to die at the end of this, alright?. Are you listening? I am going to die. Okay? So don't cry for me."
Earlier, in the live stream, the man, who was not visible, could be heard in what appeared to be a discussion with negotiators about "releasing" the people inside.
A Meta spokesperson told Fox News Digital that the company removed the livestream from Facebook and will also remove content praising this incident.
"We removed the video from the synagogue’s page, and will also remove content praising or supporting this incident. We are in contact with law enforcement as the situation continues to evolve," the spokesperson said.
The man taking people hostages is believed to be connected to Aafia Siddiqui, as he was demanding her release. While he may have referred to her as his "sister," they are not related.
As Jake Bleiberg reported for the Associated Press:
Authorities are still trying to discern a precise motive for the attack. The hostage-taker was heard demanding the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist suspected of having ties to al-Qaeda, who was convicted of trying to kill U.S. military officers while in custody in Afghanistan, the officials said. He also said he wanted to be able to speak with her, according to the officials. Siddiqui is in federal prison in Texas.
Multiple people heard the hostage-taker refer to Siddiqui as his “sister” on the livestream, but Faizan Syed, the executive director of Council on American-Islamic Relations in Dallas Fort-Worth Texas, told The Associated Press that Siddiqui’s brother, Mohammad Siddiqui, was not involved. Syed said CAIR’s support and prayers were with the people being held in the synagogue.
Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist with advanced degrees from Brandeis University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was sentenced in 2010 to 86 years in prison on charges that she assaulted and shot at U.S. Army officers after being detained in Afghanistan two years earlier. The punishment sparked outrage in Pakistan among political leaders and her supporters, who viewed her as victimized by the American criminal justice system.
In the years since, Pakistan officials have expressed interest publicly in any sort of deal or swap that could result in her release from U.S. custody, and her case has continued to draw attention from supporters. In 2018, for instance, an Ohio man who prosecutors say planned to fly to Texas and attack the prison where Siddiqui is being held in an attempt to free her was sentenced to 22 years in prison.
It's not merely Pakistan interested in Siddiqui's release, though. Linda Sarsour has participated in events with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) to free Dr. Siddiqui.
One statement, from CAIR National Deputy Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell noted:
“We strongly condemn the hostage-taking at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas. This latest antisemitic attack at a house of worship is an unacceptable act of evil. We stand in solidarity with the Jewish community, and we pray that law enforcement authorities are able to swiftly and safely free the hostages. No cause can justify or excuse this crime. We are in contact with local community leaders to learn more and provide any assistance that we can.”
Other statements emphasized that condemnation and stressed that the family of Dr. Siddiqui is not involved in the situation.
Sarsour has also tweeted retweeted messages condemning the hostage situation and expressing support for the hostages, though her two tweets have not addressed Siddiqui.
Grateful to see so many Jews and Muslims who are united in their condemnation of the terror that is happening at the synagogue in Texas and the refusal to let this destroy friendships and alliances across faiths. We all need each other to combat hate everywhere.— Paul Brandeis Raushenbush (@raushenbush) January 16, 2022
Inshallah the rest to follow, safe and sound. Those are my prayers right now. I can’t imagine the horror they are experiencing. https://t.co/3lh5T77wcI— Linda Sarsour (@lsarsour) January 16, 2022
Sarsour is known for being a vocal anti-Semite, though.
Texas politicians and religious leaders have expressed concern for the hostages and situation and are monitoring the situation.
One particularly relevant statement, though, for how sparse it was, was Jen Psaki's tweet about the president's statement.
.@POTUS has been briefed about the developing hostage situation in the Dallas area. He will continue to receive updates from his senior team as the situation develops. Senior members of the national security team are also in touch with federal law enforcement leadership.— Jen Psaki (@PressSec) January 15, 2022
It took considerable heat for not even mentioning that the hostage situation was at a synagogue, potentially purposefully targeting Jewish people because of their religion.
Ghastly.— Lyndsey Fifield (@lyndseyfifield) January 15, 2022
No mention the hostages are Jewish people in a synagogue and the gunman is demanding release of convicted Pakistani terrorist Aafia Siddiqui (whom @lsarsour has been rallying to have released).
Like everything else from this administration, nothing but empty remarks. https://t.co/F9OHbByJXZ
Hey the "place" where that hostage situation is near Dallas.— Chris in VanBeeCee (@Chris_in_VanBC) January 15, 2022
It’s happening at a synagogue. An important detail that I suspect was not inadvertently left out of this tweet.— Bee Bee (@wes48103) January 15, 2022
Biden had just on Friday released a proclamation for "A Proclamation on Religious Freedom Day, 2022" which expressed in part that "Everyone should feel safe when attending a religious service, school, a community center event, or while walking down the street wearing the symbols of their faith.
The last update from the Colleyville Police Department came at 7:27pm referring to the one man who has been released unharmed, noting that it was a statement from the police department and the FBI Dallas field office.