FBI name Brit in Texas hostage siege as Malik Faisal Akram

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FBI name Brit in Texas hostage siege as Malik Faisal Akram
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The gunman who held four people hostage during a 10-hour standoff with US police in Texas has been named by the FBI as Malik Faisal Akram.

He is a British national and Met counter terror officers are helping with the investigation.

Akram, 44, from Blackburn, took over a morning service at the Congregation Beth Israel, in Colleyville, on Saturday.

He could be heard ranting on a livestream and demanding the release of a Pakistani neuroscientist who was convicted of trying to kill US Army officers in Afghanistan. He died during the incident.

In a statement on Sunday, FBI special agent in charge Matthew DeSarno confirmed Akram was a British citizen and that “at this time there is no indication that other individuals are involved”.

A spokesperson for the Foreign Office said: “We are aware of the death of a British man in Texas and are in contact with the local authorities.”

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss condemned the incident.

She 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.”

Meanwhile the Met Police’s counter terrorism unit is working with US investigators.

In a statement issued by the Metropolitan Police, a Counter Terrorism Policing spokesperson said: “Officers from Counter Terrorism Policing are liaising with US authorities and colleagues from the FBI regarding the incident in Texas.”

Akram’s family released a statement apologising for his actions.

It said: “It is with great great sadness I will confirm my brother Faisal passed away in Texas, USA this morning.

“We are absolutely devastated as a family. We can’t say much now as [there] is an ongoing FBI investigation.

“We would like to say that we as a family do not condone any of his actions and would like to sincerely apologise wholeheartedly to all the victims involved in the unfortunate incident.”

The statement goes on to say that the suspect “was suffering from mental health issues,” but the family was certain he would not harm the hostages.

The family went on to condemn any act of violence based on religion.

“We would also like to add that any attack on any human being be it a Jew, Christian or Muslim is wrong and should always be condemned.”

One hostage was released during the standoff while three others got out at about 9pm when an FBI SWAT team entered the building.

Explosions and gunfire could be heard before the incident ended.

US President Joe Biden condemned the attack as an act of terror and said that he did not have all the details but it was believed Akram had “got the weapons on the street”, adding: “He purchased them when he landed.”

He said there were “no bombs that we know of”, and that Akram is thought to have “spent the first night in a homeless shelter”.

FBI special agent in charge Matt DeSarno said they have been in contact with their legal attache offices in London and Israel.

He told reporters: “Our investigation will have global reach.”

Malik Faisal Akram was originally from Blackburn, Greater Manchester Police confirmed.

Assistant Chief Constable Dominic Scally, for Counter Terror Policing North West, said they are helping with the investigation being led by authorities in the US.

He 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 Terror 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.”

Law enforcement officials who were not authorised to discuss the ongoing investigation and spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity earlier said that the hostage-taker demanded the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist suspected of having ties to al-Qaeda.

A rabbi in New York City received a call from the rabbi believed to be held hostage in the synagogue to demand Siddiqui’s release.

The New York rabbi then called 911.

Police were first called to the synagogue around 11 a.m. and people were evacuated from the surrounding neighborhood soon after that.

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 2pm, the man said, “You got to do something. I don’t want to see this guy dead”.

Moments later, the feed cut out.

A Meta company spokesperson later confirmed that Facebook removed the video.

Texas resident Victoria Francis said that she watched about an hour of the livestream before it cut out.

She said she heard the man rant against America and claim he had a bomb.

“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,” she said.

“He was clearly in extreme distress.”

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.

“This assailant has nothing to do with Dr. Aafia, her family, or the global campaign to get justice for Dr. Aafia. 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.

“We have confirmed that the family member being wrongly accused of this heinous act is not near the DFW Metro area.”

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