British citizen shot dead after taking hostages in Texas named as Malik Faisal Akram

The four synagogue hostages did not sustain any physical harm

Lamiat Sabin,Lizzie Dearden
Monday 17 January 2022 16:07 GMT
Texas synagogue hostages escape gunman moments before SWAT team storms the building
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A man shot dead after taking hostages at a US synagogue has been identified as British national Malik Faisal Akram.

The 44-year-old, from Blackburn in Lancashire, was killed in a standoff with police and SWAT teams that lasted at least 10 hours.

The incident at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, saw police first called on Saturday at 11am local time. Akram was killed at around 9pm.

All four hostages had been released without physical harm.

During the incident, the man could be heard ranting on a live-stream in what was reported to sound like a British accent.

Today, the Foreign Office confirmed that the man was British, while the Metropolitan Police said that counterterrorism officers were in contact with US authorities and the FBI.

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 the man 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”.

Speaking to reporters to confirm that the hostage-taker had died, Mr DeSarno said there would be “an independent investigation of the shooting incident”.

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 had been killed by the police.

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”.

Akram – who also went by his middle name Faisal – was heard by a number of people to refer to Siddiqui as his “sister” on the live-stream, but her real brother denied any involvement in the synagogue incident.

John Floyd, chair of the board for the Houston chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and lawyer for Siddiqui’s brother, said his client was not the person responsible for the “heinous” crime.

Mr Floyd condemned what had happened as “wicked”, and said the person involved “has nothing to do with Dr Aafia, her family, or the global campaign to get justice for Dr Aafia”.

Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist imprisoned on attempted murder charges

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.”

Additional reporting by PA

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