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The family of the Blackburn terrorist shot dead as he held up a synagogue in the US has revealed he was a regular boy from Lancashire before becoming a religious extremist.
Malik Faisal Akram, 44, was once a normal man who loved Sunday roasts, Blackburn Rovers and the English sitcom Only Fools and Horses, according to his brother Gulbar.
But after spending time in a Pakistani military school in his teens and dropping out of business school in Britain, he became embroiled in an Islamic sect throughout his twenties which sent him down a dark path.
Akram, a father of six, was gunned down by FBI and SWAT teams last Saturday while holding up a Texas synagogue, shortly after a final call to his brother in which he ranted about ‘f***ing Jews’ and declared he was ‘ready to die’ and would be ‘coming home in a body bag’.
‘He wasn’t an angel,’ Gulbar, 43, told The Sun.
‘But if these religious nuts hadn’t got a hold of him, this would never have happened.
‘The mosques, Imams, police and the authorities all need to do more to prevent this kind of thing happening.’
Gulbar’s comments came after it was revealed on Friday that Akram had been referred to the anti-terror programme ‘Prevent’ following the breakdown of his marriage and concerns over his growing extremist views.
The 44-year-old was also investigated by MI5 in December 2020, but he was not considered a terrorist threat, despite multiple reports he had been radicalised.
Malik Faisal Akram is seen in this handout photo taken at a faith based daytime outreach center in Dallas, Texas, USA, January 2, 2022
Akram, 44, pictured here as a boy, was once a normal man who loved Sunday roasts, Blackburn Rovers and the English sitcom Only Fools and Horses, according to his brother Gulbar
The Congregation Beth Israel synagogue is shown, Jan. 16, 2022, in Colleyville, Texas, where Akram held four people hostage and spouted antisemitic conspiracy theories before being shot by FBI and SWAT teams
Akram and Gulbar had four brothers, and despite being raised in an Asian community in the north west of England in the 1980s and early 1990s, were brought up in a ‘typically English way’ according to Gulbar.
Akram was a talented martial artist, having practiced kung fu and fought on several amateur boxing shows alongside local boxing hero Ricky Hatton, but was expelled from school after alienating his teachers with violence and moneymaking schemes on the playground.
Despite his obvious intelligence, Akram struggled in the education system and even failed to complete a business and marketing course upon his return to England, even after spending time in a highly regimented military school in Pakistan at the behest of his parents.
Gulbar said: ‘He was very intelligent but he was in a rush to make money.
‘He was a proper Del Boy. He didn’t care if something was stolen if he could make some money.’
Akram got married in 2004 shortly after joining the sect and went onto have six children, but the marriage became strained as a result of his frequent disappearances and time spent doing ‘missionary work’
Texas terrorist Malik Faisal Akram getting arrested in Blackburn in 2018
Though he was a hustler and struggled with discipline at school, Akram was not a bad kid.
But in his early twenties, he fell in with an Islamic sect and began to exhibit worrying signs of radicalisation.
In his mid-twenties, he joined the Tablighi Jamaat – an ultra-orthodox sect – and subsequently burnt £60,000 in cash outside the family’s mosque in a shocking stunt designed to represent the renouncing of his old life and movement away from ‘dirty money’.
Akram got married in 2004 shortly after joining the sect and went onto have six children, but the marriage became strained as a result of his frequent disappearances and time spent doing ‘missionary work’.
In 2016 he packed in his business – a successful chain of pharmacies – and liquidated £800,000 after a major falling out with his wife, which represented a tipping point in his path towards extremism.
It was around this time that Akram was first referred to the counter-terrorism scheme Prevent.
Akram’s family said he was a normal man who liked Only Fools and Horses before being radicalised (pictured: Only Fools And Horses 1989 Christmas Special – Rodney (NICHOLAS LYNDHURST – left), Uncle Albert (BUSTER MERRYFIELD – centre) & Del Boy (DAVID JASON – right)
Akram was a talented martial artist, having practiced kung fu and fought on several amateur boxing shows alongside local boxing hero Ricky Hatton (pictured 2009)
In 2020 MI5 also investigated Akram and ultimately decided he was not a threat.
But Akram’s decision to kidnap a rabbi and three others at the Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville on Saturday was fuelled by strong anti-Semitic beliefs and a desire to die a ‘martyr’.
In a recording of his last phone call to Gulbar, 43, Akram said he had promised their younger sibling Gulzameer, who died of Covid last year, ‘that I’d go down a martyr’, adding: ‘I’ve told my kids to man up. Don’t cry at my funeral. I’ve been praying to Allah for two years for this. I’m coming home in a body bag’.
Akram, who had been in the US for a fortnight and bought his gun ‘off the street’ in Texas, said: ‘I’m opening the doors for every youngster in England to enter America and f*** with them’.
And in a message for fellow jihadists he said: ‘Live your f***ing life bro, you f***ing coward. We’re coming to f***ing America. F*** them if they want to f*** with us. We’ll give them f***ing war’.
The extraordinary rant, revealed in audio leaked to the Jewish Chronicle and where he claims to have been planning an attack on US soil for two years, also piles further embarrassment on MI5 and their failure to put him on a transatlantic no-fly list.
Gulbar told him what he was doing was a ‘sin’ and urged him to give himself up, claiming he could ‘do a little time’ in prison and come back to Blackburn.
But Faisal exploded with rage, screaming: ‘I’d rather live one day as a lion than 100 years as a jackal. I’m going to go toe-to-toe with [police] and they can shoot me dead. I’m coming home in a body bag.
‘I’m bombed up, I’ve got f***ing every ammunition’, raving: ‘I’ve asked Allah for this death, Allah is with me, I’m not worried in the slightest’.
Police are piecing together the terrorist’s final movements after arriving at JFK airport by January 2 before staying in a homeless hostel run by a Christian charity in Dallas before launching the attack on January 15
The FBI believe he bought a gun on the streets and armed himself with it when he entered the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue (pictured) in Colleyville, Texas last Saturday
Turning on America’s involvement in Afghanistan he yelled: ‘Why do these f***ing motherf***ers come to our countries, rape our women and f*** our kids? I’m setting a precedent’.
He also demanded the release of jailed female terrorist Aafia Siddiqui – known as Lady Al Qaeda for attempting to kill US military personnel in Afghanistan – and that she be brought to the synagogue so they could both ‘die together’.
He said: ‘She’s in [prison] for 84 years, they f***ing framed her’, adding: ‘We’ll go toe to toe with them (police) in the yard. Shoot me dead. Shoot her dead’.
As it became increasingly clear that he was not going to give himself up – and was using calls with his family to say goodbye, Akram insists he is ready to die.
The call to Gulbar ends suddenly, shortly before his death, where he says simply: ‘I’ve got to go’ before hanging up’.
The 44-year-old from Blackburn arrived in the US at New York’s JFK airport on a tourist visa in late December. But new details show that despite having been investigated by MI5, no red flags were raised and he was allowed to enter the country
His father Malik Akram revealed this week to MailOnline that the distressing phone calls to family friends – and said his jihadist son had ‘destroyed his own life and the lives of his family too.’
His grieving father, speaking in Urdu at his terraced home in Blackburn said: ‘What my son has done, I have no words to explain it or to understand what he did and why he did it.
‘It came as the biggest shock of my life when I heard he was in America and in a synagogue.
‘When I heard this, I thought somebody was having a joke. He has destroyed himself and he has destroyed us. My wife has not stopped crying.’
He said his son had phoned home several times during the siege and during those calls ranted about the US war in Afghanistan and threatened that he was armed and had ‘hundreds of bullets’.
Akram had fallen out with most of his family in the years leading up to his Texas terror bid, angered and alienating them with his extreme views.