Brother says Texas synagogue hostage-taker had 'mental health issues,' issues apology to victims

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The brother of the British man who held members of a Texas synagogue hostage on Saturday said he had "mental issues," with his family issuing an apology to the individuals who were held captive for more than 10 hours.

On Sunday, the FBI identified the gunman as 44-year-old British national Malik Faisal Akram. British authorities later confirmed his identity, saying Akram had originally come from the Blackburn area of Lancashire.

Akram was killed on Saturday, though the cause of death has not been disclosed.

His brother Gulbar Akram told The New York Times in a phone interview that Malik Akram had grown distant from his family and was deeply troubled.

"He had mental health issues," Gulbar Akram told the Times. "It's well known, everybody in the town knows, he has mental health issues."

He did not go further into details on his brother's problems, though he did say that Malik Akram's mental state had deteriorated since the death of their other brother from coronavirus complications three months prior.

"I don't know what was going through his mind," he said.

Gulbar Akram questioned how his brother, who he says was known to the U.K.'s counterterrorism police prior to this incident, was able to acquire a visa and travel to the U.S.

Gulbar Akram, who is one of six brothers, was reportedly on the phone with Malik Akram when the FBI was attempting to negotiate the release of the four hostages. He described the phone call as emotional and said he tried to convince his brother to acquiesce to the negotiator's demands.

"I was in the incident room with terrorism police, with the negotiators, liaising with the FBI, who were in touch with Washington," Akram said. "Everybody was connected in that room, right?"

Akram said he does not believe Malik Akram was anti-Semitic or racist. He also said he does not believe his brother had any connections to the Texas area where the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue was located.

According to Akram, his parents - originally from Pakistan, having moved to the U.K. in the 1960s - are "devastated" to have lost two sons within months of each other.

In a statement obtained by Sky News, Gulbar Akram issued an apology to the hostages on behalf of his family.

He said his family does not "condone any of his actions and would like to sincerely apologise wholeheartedly to all the victims involved in the unfortunate incident," adding "there was nothing we could have said to him or done that would have convinced him to surrender."

Malik Faisal Akram, 44, had demanded the release of Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui, who is currently imprisoned in Texas for attempting to murder a U.S. soldier. Siddiqui has long been accused of helping militant Islamist groups, and terrorist organizations such as ISIS and the Taliban have also called for her release.