FBI agents stormed Texas synagogue as British hostage-taker became more ‘combative’, agency reveals

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Police process the scene in front of the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texaswhere Malik Faisal Akram was shot dead by the FBI  (AP)
Police process the scene in front of the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texaswhere Malik Faisal Akram was shot dead by the FBI (AP)

FBI agents stormed a Texas synagogue as British hostage-taker Malik Faisal Akram became more ‘combative’, the agency said in a press conference on Friday.

Matthew DeSarno, of the Dallas FBI, said Akram’s behaviour became more erratic during the 11-hour hostage situation at the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, last Saturday.

“As the hours passed and Akram’s behaviour changed, he wasn’t as communicative with the negotiators. He became combative and issued ultimatums and deadlines”, Mr DeSarno told reporters.

Just after 9pm, he ordered a specialist FBI team to enter the temple.

“The situation had gone from bad to significantly worse and it was time to take action.”

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker speaks to reporters earlier in the week (The Dallas Morning News)
Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker speaks to reporters earlier in the week (The Dallas Morning News)

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker told the press conference said it had been an “extremely terrifying” ordeal throughout.

Mr Cyton-Walker said he became more fearful as Akram’s mental state deteriorated.

“I was absolutely in fear of my life. I was kind of wondering, ‘OK FBI’.

“He went from extremely agitated with the negotiator to extremely calm, just asking me for juice. I was highly, highly concerned at that moment, but fortunately that gave us the opportunity... that we took advantage of.”

The hostages fought their way out of the synagogue by throwing a chair and ran out as the FBI agent entered the temple.

Akram, 44, was shot several times when FBI officers entered the temple as the hostages escaped out of a side exit.

Mr DeSarno described Akram as a “terrorist disposing of an antisemitic worldview”.

“The FBI is and has been treating Saturday’s events as an act of terrorism targeting the Jewish community.”

He said the FBI considered the ongoing threat to the Jewish community to be “among our very highest priorities”.

Law enforcement surround a Texas synagogue where a man held four people hostage for 11 hours on 15 January (AP)
Law enforcement surround a Texas synagogue where a man held four people hostage for 11 hours on 15 January (AP)

Mr DeSarno also revealed they received a tip from a member of the public who met Akram while he was mountain biking the day before the terror attack.

Akram had left the bike chained to a fence, and FBI agents were able to unlock the lock with a key found on the suspect’s body.

Akram, a British citizen from Blackburn, arrived in the United States about two weeks before the attacks at JFK International Airport in New York City.

Earlier on Friday, the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office listed Malik Faisal Akram’s cause of death as homicide by ‘multiple gunshot wounds’.

Mr DeSarno confirmed the hostage-taker had been demanding the release of an Al-Qaeda terrorist throughout the hostage situation.

He refused to name the terrorist, but it had been widelyreported to be Aafia Siddiqui, a US-educated Pakistani neuroscientist serving 86 years in prison in Fort Worth for attempting to shoot American soldiers in Afghanistan.

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