Texas rabbi: Captor grew “belligerent” late in standoff

  • Law enforcement teams stage near Congregation Beth Israel while conducting SWAT operations Saturday in Colleyville, Texas. (Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

COLLEYVILLE, Texas — 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 had not provided a possible motive.

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The investigation stretched to England, where late Sunday police in Manchester announced that two teenagers were in custody in connection with the standoff. Greater Manchester Police tweeted that counter-terrorism officers had made the arrests but did not say whether the pair faced any charges. Katie Chaumont, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Dallas, referred questions to police in Manchester.

President Joe Biden called the episode an act of terror. 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.”

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 Afghanistan.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Biden said Akram allegedly purchased a weapon on the streets. 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.

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