Biden Calls Texas Synagogue Hostage Situation 'Act of Terror'; FBI Identifies British Assailant

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks with Governor Greg Abbott expressing his gratitude for the rapid resolution of the situation that unfolded in Texas

Jonathan Lis
Reuters
An aerial view of police standing in front of the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue, in Colleyville, Texas, on Sunday.
An aerial view of police standing in front of the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue, in Colleyville, Texas, on Sunday.Credit: Brandon Wade /AP
Jonathan Lis
Reuters

The hostage taker killed at a Texas synagogue got his weapons off the street, President Joe Biden said on Sunday, a day after the safe release of four people held there by a gunman in what Biden called "an act of terror."

The man was identified as British citizen Malik Faisal Akram, the FBI said Sunday.

The hostage incident in Colleyville, Texas, "was an act of terror; it was an act of terror," said Biden, who was in Philadelphia with first lady Jill Biden packing carrots and apples at a food bank in a visit to the city to honor the legacy of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

Biden addressed the issue of measures needed to stop gun violence.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks with members of the press about the Texas synagogue hostage, in Philadelphia, on Sunday.Credit: Patrick Semansky /AP

"The idea of background checks are critical, but you can't stop something like this if someone's on the streets buying something from somebody else on the streets," he said.

On Sunday Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke with Texas Governor Greg Abbott, and thanked him for the determination and professionalism of local law enforcement which resolved the situation. The PM also thanked the governor for his ongoing support of the Jewish community in Texas and for taking a stand against antisemitism and the BDS movement.

An FBI Hostage Rescue Team on Saturday night stormed Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, ending a 10-hour standoff with police by the gunman, who disrupted a Sabbath service and took the rabbi and three other people hostage.

One hostage was released unharmed after being held for six hours and the remaining three were later safely freed by the FBI team.

Reporters at the scene late Saturday said they heard the sound of explosions, possibly flashbangs, and the sound of gunfire at the Reform Jewish synagogue in Colleyville, which is about 16 miles (26 kms) northeast of Fort Worth.

Britain's foreign office on Sunday confirmed the death of a British man in Texas, in a statement issued in response to a media inquiry about the gunman at the synagogue.

SWAT teams from the Colleyville Police Department responded to the synagogue after emergency calls began at about 10:41 A.M. during the Sabbath service, which was being broadcast online. FBI negotiators soon opened contact with the man, who said he wanted to speak to a woman held in a federal prison.

The man was heard having a one-sided phone conversation during a Facebook livestream of the service. The man could be heard ranting and talking about religion and his sister, repeatedly saying he did not want to see anyone hurt, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

The hostage-taker claimed to be the brother of Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui, who is serving an 86-year U.S. prison sentence on her 2010 conviction for shooting at soldiers and FBI agents, and demanded that she be freed, a U.S. official told ABC News.

Siddiqui is being held at a federal prison in the Fort Worth area. A lawyer representing Siddiqui, Marwa Elbially, told CNN in a statement that the man was not Siddiqui's brother and Siddiqui's family condemned his "heinous" actions.

Although the Texas hostage situation appeared to be an isolated incident, synagogues in New York and elsewhere around the country ramped up security in response.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

$1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN

Protesters demonstrating in front of the consulate general of Israel in New York last year.

Huge Gap Between Young, Old Americans' View on Israel-Palestine

Rep. Henry Cuellar attends a campaign event on Wednesday, in San Antonio, Texas.

AIPAC-backed Dem Declares Victory Against Progressive Challenger in Texas Runoff

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Atomic Energy Organization of Iran chief Mohammad Eslami at an event for Nuclear Technology Day in Tehran, last month.

Prospects for Reviving Iran Nuclear Deal 'Tenuous' at Best, U.S. Envoy Says

A family grieves outside the SSGT Willie de Leon Civic Center following the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on Wednesday.

Israeli PM Offers Condolences After Texas Gunman Kills 21 at Elementary School

U.S. President Joe Biden, this week.

Biden Decides to Keep Iran's Revolutionary Guards on Terror List, Says Report

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.

Progressive Jews Urge ADL Chief to Apologize for Calling Out Democratic Activist