Texas Synagogue Gunman Was Known, Interrogated by MI5, BBC Says

44-year-old Malik Faisal Akram, the gunman who took four people hostage at a Texas synagogue, 'was assessed to be no longer a risk at the time he flew to U.S. at New Year,' BBC journalist says

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The Congregation Beth Israel synagogue is seen on Sunday in Colleyville, Texas.
The Congregation Beth Israel synagogue is seen on Sunday in Colleyville, Texas.Credit: Brandon Bell - AFP
Reuters
Reuters

The suspected gunman who took four people hostage at a Texas synagogue and was himself killed was known to British intelligence and assessed to no longer be a threat at the time he travelled to the United States, the BBC reported.

"Malik Faisal Akram, the Texas synagogue hostage-taker, was known to MI5 and was investigated in 2020. He was assessed to be no longer a risk at the time he flew to U.S. at New Year," Frank Gardner, BBC Security Correspondent, said in a tweet.

Four hostages held by the 44-year-old British national at a Texas synagogue were rescued on Saturday after a 10-hour standoff, when an FBI hostage rescue team breached the building, rescued the hostages and killed Akram.

Akram, initially misidentified by many U.S. media outlets as Muhammad Siddiqui, entered the Beth Israel synagogue shortly before 11 A.M., during the Sabbath service.

The man was reportedly holding the congregants in a bid to secure the release of Aafia Siddiqui, who is serving a prison sentence until 2083 for attempted murder charges. 

Siddiqui is currently held at the Federal Medical Center in Carswell, Texas, which houses female prisoners with mental health issues. Her release date is 2083.

Dubbed the "Lady Al-Qaida," Aafia Siddiqui, 42, is a Pakistan-born, U.S.-educated neuroscientist who was sentenced to 86 years in a U.S. prison in 2010 for shooting at Americans who were questioning her in Afghanistan. 

Citing synagogue congregants tuned into the livestream from home, CNN reported that the suspect oscillated between making antisemitic remarks and apologizing to the hostages and emphasizing he is not a criminal. 

During the livestream, he repeatedly mentioned Islam, used profanities and claimed to have explosives. The man also repeatedly said he believed he was going to die, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

Congregation Beth Israel is a Reform synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, minutes outside Fort Worth. The Dallas-Fort Worth metro area holds one of Texas' largest and oldest Jewish communities, dating back to the 19th century.

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