Teenagers arrested in UK in connection with Texas synagogue siege as FBI name British hostage-taker

FBI has named Texas synagogue hostage-taker as British citizen Malik Faisal Akram

Lamiat Sabin,Lizzie Dearden
Monday 17 January 2022 16:05
Texas synagogue hostages escape gunman

Two teenagers have been arrested in Manchester after a British man flew to the US, bought a weapon and held people hostage during a 10-hour stand-off at a synagogue in Texas.

Malik Faisal Akram, originally from Blackburn in Lancashire, was shot dead when the FBI entered the Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville on Saturday night.

US president Joe Biden branded the incident “an act of terror” and UK police are now working with authorities in America as part of the investigation.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) announced on Sunday evening that officers from Counter Terror Policing North West had made two arrests in south Manchester.

They said the teenagers, whose ages and genders they did not immediately confirm, remain in custody for questioning.

News of the arrests comes hours after the FBI confirmed the identity of the hostage-taker as 44-year-old Akram, who was killed at around 9pm on Saturday.

All four hostages were released without physical harm.

Two teenagers have been arrested by police in Manchester after a British hostage-taker was shot after a stand-off at a synagogue in the US

On Sunday, foreign secretary Liz Truss tweeted: “My thoughts are with the Jewish community and all those affected by the appalling act in Texas. We condemn this act of terrorism and anti-semitism.

“We stand with US in defending the rights and freedoms of our citizens against those who spread hate.”

FBI special agent in charge Matt DeSarno said the bureau believed Akram was “singularly focused on one issue” and that it was “not specifically related to the Jewish community”, adding that it would continue to “work to find [a] motive”.

Akram is said to have demanded the release of Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui.

In 2010, she was convicted in the US and sentenced to 86 years in prison after being detained in Afghanistan two years earlier for trying to kill an American army captain.

The FBI and US Justice Department have accused Siddiqui – who is currently imprisoned in Fort Worth, Texas – of being an “al-Qaeda operative and facilitator”.

Akram’s brother, Gulbar, said his family was “absolutely devastated” that Akram, who also went by his middle name Faisal, had been killed.

He added: “We would like to say that we as a family do not condone any of his actions and would like to sincerely apologize wholeheartedly to all the victims involved in the unfortunate incident.”

In the Facebook post, Gulbar said: “Although my brother was suffering from mental health issues we were confident that he would not harm the hostages ... Later a firefight has taken place and he was shot and killed ... There was nothing we could have said to him or done that would have convinced him to surrender.”

He added: “We would also like to add that any attack on any human being be it a Jew, Christian or Muslim etc is wrong and should always be condemned. It is absolutely inexcusable for a Muslim to attack a Jew or for any Jew to attack a Muslim, Christian, Hindu vice versa etc etc”.

Speaking on Sunday, assistant chief constable Dominic Scally, speaking on behalf of Counter Terrorism Policing North West, said: “Firstly, our thoughts remain with everyone affected by the terrible events that took place in Texas on 15 January.

“We can confirm that the suspect, who is deceased, is 44-year-old Malik Faisal Akram, originally from the Blackburn area of Lancashire.

“I can also confirm that Counter Terrorism Policing North West is assisting with the investigation being led by the US Authorities.

“Police forces in the region will continue to liaise with their local communities, including the Jewish community, and will put in place any necessary measures to provide reassurance to them.

“We continue to urge the public to report anything that might be linked to terrorism to police, by calling the anti-terrorist hotline on 0800 789 321 – your call could save lives.”

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