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An armed suspect claiming to have bombs in unknown locations took a rabbi and three others hostage at the Congregation Beth Israel, a source familiar with the situation told ABC News. It is unclear to what extent the hostage-taker is armed.
A U.S. official briefed on the matter told ABC News the hostage-taker is claiming to be the brother of convicted terrorist Aafia Siddiqui, but authorities have not yet confirmed his identity. The suspect is demanding to have the sister freed, the official said.
Siddiqui is incarcerated at Carswell Air Force Base near Fort Worth, according to the source. She had alleged ties to al-Qaida and was convicted of assault and attempted murder of a U.S. soldier in 2010 and sentenced to 86 years in prison.
There is believed to be one suspect at this time, the source said. The FBI has responded to the scene, along with local authorities and hostage negotiators. The Department of Homeland Security secretary has also been briefed on the situation, a U.S. official said.
The Colleyville Police Department’s SWAT team responded to the area midday Saturday and evacuated residents in the immediate area.
As of 1:20 p.m. local time, the situation “remains ongoing,” the department said on social media. “We ask that you continue to avoid the area.”
The White House is also “closely monitoring” the hostage situation and is referring any questions to the FBI and law enforcement at this time, a White House official confirmed.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a statement in response to the ongoing situation.
“The Texas Department of Public Safety is working closely with the Federal Bureau of Investigation on the hostage situation at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville. The State of Texas is ready to provide additional assistance as requested and we will continue to monitor the situation. I ask Texans to join Cecilia and me as we pray for the safety of the congregants.”
In Houston, the police department increased patrols at area synagogues due to the situation in Colleyville.
In a tweet, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said he is praying for a positive outcome.
Praying for a very positive outcome for all those being held hostage at the synagogue in Colleyville, Texas. Standing with our Jewish brothers and sisters in our very diverse community. st
— Sylvester Turner (@SylvesterTurner) January 15, 2022
This is a developing story.
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Source: This post first appeared on abc7NY