British police arrest 2 in investigation into Texas standoff


COLLEYVILLE, Texas (AP) — Police in England said Sunday they had arrested two teenagers in their
investigation into an armed British national holding four people hostage during a 10-hour standoff at a
Texas synagogue.
The Greater Manchester Police did not name the suspects or whether they faced any charges. They described
them as teenagers who were in custody for questioning.
FBI Dallas spokeswoman Katie Chaumont referred questions to police in Manchester.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.
A rabbi who was among four people held hostage at a Texas synagogue said Sunday that their armed captor
grew "increasingly belligerent and threatening" toward the end of the 10-hour standoff, which
ended with an FBI SWAT team rushing into the building and the captor’s death.
Authorities identified the hostage-taker as a 44-year-old British national, Malik Faisal Akram, who was
killed Saturday night after the last hostages ran out of Congregation Beth Israel around 9 p.m. The FBI
said there was no indication that anyone else was involved, but it had not provided a possible motive as
of Sunday afternoon.
Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker credited security training that his suburban Fort Worth congregation has
received over the years for getting him and the other three hostages through the ordeal, which he
described as traumatic.
"In the last hour of our hostage crisis, the gunman became increasingly belligerent and
threatening," Cytron-Walker said in a statement. "Without the instruction we received, we
would not have been prepared to act and flee when the situation presented itself."
President Joe Biden called the episode an act of terror. Akram could be heard ranting on a Facebook
livestream of the services and demanding the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist
suspected of having ties to al-Qaida who was convicted of trying to kill U.S. Army officers in
Speaking to reporters in Philadelphia on Sunday, Biden said Akram allegedly purchased a weapon on the
Federal investigators believe Akram purchased the handgun used in the hostage taking in a private sale,
according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity because the
investigation is ongoing. Akram arrived in the U.S. at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York
about two weeks ago, a law enforcement official said.
Video from Dallas TV station WFAA showed people running out a door of the synagogue, and then a man
holding a gun opening the same door just seconds later before he turned around and closed it. Moments
later, several shots and then an explosion could be heard.
"Rest assured, we are focused," Biden said. "The attorney general is focused and making
sure that we deal with these kinds of acts."
Akram arrived in the U.S. recently on a tourist visa from Great Britain, according to a U.S. official who
spoke on condition of anonymity because the information was not intended to be public. London’s
Metropolitan Police said in a statement that its counter-terrorism police were liaising with U.S.
authorities about the incident.
FBI Special Agent in Charge Matt DeSarno said the hostage-taker was specifically focused on an issue not
directly connected to the Jewish community. It wasn’t clear why Akram chose the synagogue, though the
prison where Saddiqui is serving her sentence is in Fort Worth.
Michael Finfer, the president of the congregation, said in a statement "there was a one in a million
chance that the gunman picked our congregation."
Authorities have declined to say who shot Akram, saying it was still under investigation.
Authorities said police were first called to the synagogue around 11 a.m. and people were evacuated from
the surrounding neighborhood soon afterward.
Saturday’s services were being livestreamed on the synagogue’s Facebook page for a time. The Fort Worth
Star-Telegram reported that an angry man could be heard ranting and talking about religion at times
during the livestream, which didn’t show what was happening inside the synagogue.
Shortly before 2 p.m., the man said, "You got to do something. I don’t want to see this guy
dead." Moments later, the feed cut out. A spokesperson for Meta Platforms Inc., the corporate
successor to Facebook Inc., later confirmed that Facebook had removed the video.
Akram used his phone during the course of negotiations to communicate with people other than law
enforcement, according to a law enforcement official who was not authorized to discuss an ongoing
investigation by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Multiple people heard the hostage-taker refer to Siddiqui as his "sister" on the livestream.
But John Floyd, board chair for the Houston chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations — the
nation’s largest Muslim advocacy group — said Siddiqui’s brother, Mohammad Siddiqui, was not involved.

"We want the assailant to know that his actions are wicked and directly undermine those of us who
are seeking justice for Dr. Aafia," said Floyd, who also is legal counsel for Mohammad Siddiqui.

Texas resident Victoria Francis, who said she watched about an hour of the livestream, said she heard the
man rant against America and claim he had a bomb. Biden said there were apparently no explosives,
despite the threats.
"He was just all over the map. He was pretty irritated and the more irritated he got, he’d make more
threats, like ‘I’m the guy with the bomb. If you make a mistake, this is all on you.’ And he’d laugh at
that," Francis said. "He was clearly in extreme distress."
Colleyville, a community of about 26,000 people, is about 15 miles (23 kilometers) northeast of Fort
Worth. By Sunday morning, the police perimeter around the synagogue had shrunk to half a block in either
direction and FBI agents could be seen going in and out of the building. A sign saying "Love"
— with the "o" replaced with a Star of David — was planted in a neighbor’s lawn.
Reached outside his home Sunday, Cytron-Walker declined to speak at length about the episode. "It’s
a little overwhelming as your can imagine. It was not fun yesterday," he told the AP.
Andrew Marc Paley, a Dallas rabbi who was called to the scene to help families and hostages upon their
release, said Cytron-Walker acted as a calm and comforting presence. The first hostage was released
shortly after 5 p.m. That was around the time food was delivered to those inside the synagogue, but
Paley said he did not know if it was part of the negotiations.
"He appeared a little unfazed, actually, but I don’t know if that was sort of shock or just the
moment," Paley said of the first hostage who was released.
Cytron-Walker said his congregation had received training from local authorities and the Secure Community
Network, which was founded in 2004 by a coalition of Jewish organizations and describes itself as
"the official safety and security organization" of the Jewish community in North America.
Michael Masters, the CEO of the organization, said the congregation had provided security training in
August and had not been previously aware of Akram.
The standoff led authorities to tighten security in other places, including New York City, where police
said that they increased their presence "at key Jewish institutions" out of an abundance of
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Twitter that "this event is a stark reminder that
antisemitism is still alive and we must continue to fight it worldwide."
Tucker reported from Washington, D.C. Also contributing to this reporter were Associated Press writers
Paul J. Weber and Acacia Coronado in Austin; Michael Balsamo in Washington; Colleen Long in
Philadelphia; Elliot Spagat in San Diego; Jennifer McDermott in Providence, Rhode Island; Michael R.
Sisak in New York; Holly Meyer in Nashville, Tenn.; and Issac Scharf in Jerusalem.

No posts to display