FBI Makes Claims Motive of Man Taking Hostages at Synagogue Was 'Not Specifically Related to Jewish Community'

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Posted: Jan 16, 2022 8:00 AM
FBI Makes Claims Motive of Man Taking Hostages at Synagogue Was 'Not Specifically Related to Jewish Community'

Source: AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File

As was covered last night, a man who is now dead took multiple people hostage for nearly 12 hours on Saturday at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas. Not only did the man take a rabbi and others hostage during shabbat services, but he demanded the release of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, who is suspected of having ties to al-Qaeda and was convicted of trying to kill U.S. military officers while in custody in Afghanistan. Yet once all the hostages had been released and were safe, the FBI said during a press conference that the man's motive was not tied to targeting the Jewish community.

The FBI claimed that "we do believe that from our engagement with this subject," speaking of the hostage taker, "that he was singularly focused on one issue and it was not specifically related to the Jewish community, but we're continuing to work to find motive and we will continue on that path."

The Associated Press went with this narrative for updates.

Users on Twitter were particularly outspoken about not only the hostage situation, but such a claim. 

As Guy tweeted, the FBI initially made similarly problematic statements when a man shot several Republican members during practice for the Congressional baseball game in 2017 was not motivated by politics.

The man had taken a rabbi and congregants hostage while services were going on, notably on the Jewish sabbath. He also reportedly was demanding to speak with Siddiqui, who has a history of anti-Semitism.

Rob Eshman published a rather informative piece for Forward on Saturday to do with Siddiqui's anti-Semitic background. This in part highlighted how she got an advanced degree from Brandeis University, which was founded by Jews and where 44 percent of the student body is Jewish:

Siddiqui’s then-husband told [author Deborah] Scroggins his ex-wife chose Brandeis for its academic reputation, proximity to Boston and generous financial aid. He also said that perhaps she was also interested in “getting to know her enemy.”

“Around the same time,” writes Scroggins, “Aafia began reading books about the tactics of deception and about the Israeli spy agency, Mossad.”

At Brandeis, professors cautioned Siddiqui against bringing religion into her scientific papers. In the conclusion to a research paper on fetal alcohol syndrome, she wrote that syndrome was proof of the Koran’s wisdom in forbidding alcohol.

“She was a very intelligent young woman,” one of her Brandeis professors told Scroggins. “The only thing that was noticeable, that stood out, was that she wanted to bring fundamentalist Muslim tenets into our work.”

Tensions between Siddiqui and her department mounted. “The episode,” writes Scroggins, “seems to have reinforced her private belief that American Jews — or, as she often called them, ‘Israeli Americans’ —were forever intriguing against Muslims.”

Siddiqui, who married a Pakistani doctor and gave birth to three children, became even more radicalized after the September 11 attacks, traveling to Pakistan and Afghanistan and attracting the attention of the FBI and Pakistani security.

She was arrested by Afghanistan police in 2008, carrying documents on making explosives along with descriptions of New York City landmarks.

She also exhibited blatant anti-Semitism during her trial:

In 2009, while awaiting trial on charges that she tried to kill American servicemen, Siddiqui tried to fire her lawyers because of their Jewish background.

Siddiqui later demanded that jurors in her trial be DNA tested to prove they weren’t Jewish.

“If they have a Zionist or Israeli background, they are all mad at me,” she said. “They should be excluded if you want to be fair.”

The FBI was able to answer very few questions at the Saturday evening press conference, as it is an ongoing investigation.