By Peter McLaren-Kennedy • 17 January 2022 • 7:33
The FBI have named the Texas synagogue British hostage taker as news comes through of two teenagers being arrested in Manchester following investigations by British police into the hostage situation in Texas. The drama unfolded over the weekend when the 44-year-old from Blackburn entered a synagogue in Colleyville where he held the Rabbi and three others hostage before being shot by police.
It is believed that the hostage taker, named as Malik Faisal Akram.by the FBI, travelled from his home in Blackburn to the USA earlier this month.
Discussions between the FBI and the Counter Terror Policing North West as part of the investigation into the shooting has led to the arrest of two unnamed teenagers in Manchester.
Greater Manchester Police said: “Two teenagers were detained in south Manchester this evening. They remain in custody for questioning.”
The reasons for their arrest as well as their connection with the hostage taking are at this stage unclear, with police yet to provide further information.
A statement by Akram’s family said they are “devastated” by his death, adding that they “do not condone any of his actions and would like to sincerely apologise wholeheartedly to all the victims involved in the unfortunate incident.”
Akram’s brother Gulbar said family members spent hours “liaising with Faisal” during the siege, and that although he was “suffering from mental health issues we were confident that he would not harm the hostages/”
“There was nothing we could have said to him or done that would have convinced him to surrender,” Gulbar added.
According to a Sky News report, Gulbar, said: “Faisal suffered from severe mental health illnesses,” he continued reiterating that: “his brother wouldn’t have wanted to hurt anyone and he was extremely apologetic about the panic and terror that his brother had caused in Texas.”
Gulbar was part of the negotiation team with the FBI speaking to his brother, trying to get him to back down and to ensure that no harm was caused.
The rabbi held hostage in the attack, Charlie Cytron-Walker, speaking after the SWAT team released them said: “Akram became increasingly belligerent and threatening during the standoff.”
Mr Cytron-Walker credited security training his congregation had received over the years for keeping the hostages safe. He said: “Without that training we would not have been prepared to act and flee when the situation presented itself.”
The first part of the siege was captured on a Facebook livestream of the morning shabbat, which was cut off at around 2pm.
The footage shows Akram demanding the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist convicted of trying to kill US military officers in Afghanistan. He said he wanted to speak to her claiming he was her brother.
John Floyd, of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Siddiqui’s brother was not involved and that the assailant had nothing to do with Dr Aafia, her family, or the global campaign to get justice for Dr Aafia.”
He said: “We want the assailant to know that his actions are wicked and directly undermine those of us who are seeking justice for Dr Aafia.”
The motive for the attack on the synagogue, which is around 30 miles from Dallas, is still unclear, and authorities are still trying to establish any relationship between Akram and Siddiqui.
The president suggested that the attacker was able to get a gun from off the street and that the siege represented a “failure to focus as hard as we should on gun sales.”
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss tweeted to say the UK “condemns this act of terrorism and anti-Semitism”, while UK ambassador to the US Karen Pierce said she was “deeply concerned by the news from Texas”.
“The UK & US stand shoulder to shoulder in defiance of terrorism and in defence of the fundamental rights and freedoms of our citizens,” she wrote.
With the British hostage taker named no doubt more evidence will come to light, as will information about his movements and his motivation.
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Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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