FBI agents stormed a Texas synagogue as British hostage-taker Malik Faisal Akram became more ‘combative’, the agency said in a press conference on Friday.
Akram, a British national, was killed by the FBI after taking Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker and three members of the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, hostage last Saturday.
Matthew DeSarno, of the Dallas FBI, said he knew they had to act as Akram’s behaviour became more erratic during the 11-hour hostage situation.
“As the hours passed and Akram’s behaviour changed, he wasn’t as communicative with the negotiators. He became combative and issued ultimatums and deadlines”, Mr DeSarno told reporters.
“The situation had gone from bad to significantly worse and it was time to take action.”
Just after 9pm, the hostages had fought their way out of the synagogue by throwing a chair at Akram.
Moments later, a specialist FBI team entered the temple and shot and killed Akram.
Mr Cytron-Walker told the press conference said it had been an “extremely terrifying” ordeal throughout.
He said the hostages became more fearful as Akram’s mental state deteriorated.
“I was absolutely in fear of my life. I was kind of wondering, ‘OK FBI’.
“He went from extremely agitated with the negotiator to extremely calm, just asking me for juice. I was highly, highly concerned at that moment, but fortunately that gave us the opportunity ... that we took advantage of.”
Mr DeSarno described Akram, 44, as a “terrorist disposing of an antisemitic worldview”.
“The FBI is and has been treating Saturday’s events as an act of terrorism targeting the Jewish community.”
He said the FBI considered the ongoing threat to the Jewish community to be “among our very highest priorities”.
Mr DeSarno also revealed they received a tip from a member of the public who met Akram while he was mountain biking the day before the terror attack.
Akram had left the bike chained to a fence, and FBI agents were able to unlock the lock with a key found on the suspect’s body.
Akram, a British citizen from Blackburn, arrived in the United States about two weeks before the attacks at JFK International Airport in New York City.
Earlier on Friday, the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office listed Malik Faisal Akram’s cause of death as homicide by “multiple gunshot wounds”.
Mr DeSarno confirmed the hostage-taker had been demanding the release of an Al-Qaeda terrorist throughout the hostage situation.
He refused to name the terrorist, but it had been widely reported to be Aafia Siddiqui, a US-educated Pakistani neuroscientist serving 86 years in prison in Fort Worth for attempting to shoot American soldiers in Afghanistan.
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