The FBI has identified the British man it says took hostages at a Texas synagogue

The FBI has identified the British man it says took hostages at a Texas synagogue

9:40pm Jan 16, 2022
A law enforcement vehicle sits in front of the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue on January 16, 2022 in Colleyville, Texas. All four people who were held hostage at the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue have been safely released after more than 10 hours
A law enforcement vehicle sits in front of the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue on January 16, 2022 in Colleyville, Texas. All four people who were held hostage at the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue have been safely released after more than 10 hours
Brandon Bell / Getty Images

Updated January 16, 2022 at 9:37 PM ET

The man who took hostages at a Texas synagogue on Saturday and died after a stand-off with police was 44-year-old British citizen Malik Faisal Akram, the FBI said in a statement on Sunday.

There was "no indication" that other individuals were involved in the incident, the bureau added.

The 10-hour standoff in the city of Colleyville, just outside of Fort Worth, ended when a hostage rescue team breached the synagogue and saved the three hostages. One other hostage had been freed earlier.

Akram died on the scene, though the FBI did not say how.

Officials in the United Kingdom condemned the violence and expressed solidarity with the U.S. after learning the news that the hostage taker was a British citizen.

"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," Liz Truss, the U.K.'s Foreign Secretary, said in a tweet. "We stand with US in defending the rights and freedoms of our citizens against those who spread hate."

Police in the U.K. detained two teenagers in connection with the incident on Sunday. Counterterrorism police arrested the two in South Manchester and they remain in custody for questioning, the Greater Manchester Police said. U.K. police said Akram was originally from the Blackburn area of Lancashire, which is to the north of Manchester.

U.K. police said they were assisting U.S. law enforcement in the investigation.

'This was an act of terror'

President Joe Biden said during a visit to Philadelphia on Sunday that the incident was an "act of terror" and condemned antisemitism.

"I wanted to make sure we got the word out to synagogues and places of worship that we're not going to tolerate this," said Biden, who also praised the efforts of federal and local law enforcement.

The hostage taker could be heard on a Facebook livestream of the Shabbat service demanding the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist serving an 86-year sentence in a Texas federal prison, The Associated Press reported.

Anna Eisen, one of the founding members of the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue, told Weekend Edition that she turned on the livestream from home when she heard what was happening.

"I stayed glued to the computer. At times I really felt like I wanted to walk away," she said. "It was so terrifying, because everything was live and people's lives were at stake and every minute could have been that things would turn in a bad direction."

Eisen said the synagogue takes security seriously and has a close relationship with local law enforcement.

"Just like other government institutions, churches, synagogues, public schools, this has become part of the everyday operations ... to just be aware and be prepared," she said.

The synagogue's rabbi, Charlie Cytron-Walker, was reported to be one of the hostages. He wrote on Facebook on Sunday:

I am thankful and filled with appreciation for

All of the vigils and prayers and love and support,

All of the law enforcement and first responders who cared for us,

All of the security training that helped save us.

I am grateful for my family.

I am grateful for the CBI Community, the Jewish Community, the Human Community.

I am grateful that we made it out.

I am grateful to be alive.

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