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THE Texas synagogue hostage-taker was identified as Malik Faisal Akram, a 44-year-old British citizen.
Akram kept members of the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville captive for almost 12 hours on Saturday after storming the temple and demanding to speak to convicted terrorist Aafia Siddiqui.
After the dramatic rescue, Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker said he is “grateful to be alive.”
Rabbi Cytron-Walker was among the hostages and took to Facebook to express his gratitude for law enforcement and first responders, and the thoughts and prayers.
“I am grateful that we made it out,” he wrote. “I am grateful to be alive.”
Texas Governor Greg Abbott tweeted that all hostages were rescued on Saturday night, and are “alive and safe.”
Read our synagogue hostage siege live blog for the latest news and updates…
Does Aafia Siddiqui have a criminal background?
Allegedly Siddiqui was arrested in 2008 in Afghanistan for “carrying sodium cyanide, as well as documents describing how to make chemical weapons and dirty bombs and how to weaponize Ebola,” writes foreignpolicy.com
She has also been identified as having a hand in Africa’s illegal diamond trade, which in earlier years was allegedly a convenient, hard-to-trace way of funding Al Qaeda’s global terror operations, as reported by Boston Magazine.
The FBI once named Siddiqui as a woman who has the “knowledge, skills, and intention to continue Al Qaeda’s terror war in the United States and abroad.”
Who is Aafia Siddiqui?
The gunman demanded to speak to Aafia Siddiqui, who is also known as “Lady Al-Qaeda.”
She was once identified as a member of Al-Qaeda, although it is not known if she is still associated with the group.
Born on March 2, 1972, Siddiqui is 50 years old.
She has been linked to 9/11 ringleader Khalid Sheikh Mohammed according to foreignpolicy.com.
Reportedly, she is a Pakistani expat who lived in Boston. She studied at M.I.T. and received a doctorate from Brandeis according to the outlet.
She is also a mother of two. Her husband is reportedly an anesthesiologist at Brigham and Women’s.
Manchester Police detain two teenagers
The Greater Manchester Police announced they have detained two teenagers in connection with the Colleyville synagogue attack.
In a statement, the police department said the teens were detained “as part of the ongoing investigation,” and that the pair remain in custody for questioning.
The Counter Terrorism Policing team “continues to assist the investigation being led by the US authorities,” the officials stated.
Did Facebook remove the livestream?
No one was seen on camera through the livestream; only voices were heard.
A Meta company spokesperson later confirmed that Facebook removed the video.
When did Akram come to the US?
The FBI didn’t officially confirm or deny these reports when asked by The Sun Sunday evening.
A spokesperson for the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said it is “aware of the death of a British man in Texas and are in contact with the local authorities.”
Rabbi Cytron-Walker’s civil rights backgrond
Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker hails from Lansing, Michigan, and previously worked at Focus: HOPE, a civil and human rights organization in Detroit, Michigan.
He was also the assistant director of the Amherst Survival Center.
The rabbi graduated from the University of Michigan in 1998 and also attended Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.
He received his rabbinical ordination in 2006.
Rabbi Cytron-Walker is a past president of the South West Association of Reform Rabbis and serves on the steering committee of Peace Together.
Is Rabbi Cytron-Walker married?
Rabbi Cytron-Walker is married to Adena Cytron-Walker.
The pair has two daughters.
According to her LinkedIn profile, Adena was a team manager at Destination Imagination for nearly seven years.
She also served as a teacher at Congregation Beth Israel for nine years.
Adena is the co-author of Intergroup Dialogue in Higher Education: Meaningful Learning about Social Justice.
She is reportedly the vice president of programs at the Multicultural Alliance, where she coordinates Camp CommUNITY, according to the company’s website.
Who is Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker?
Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker is a clergy member at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas.
He is the synagogue’s first full-time rabbi since 2006.
Rabbi’s Facebook statement, continued
“I am grateful for my family.
I am grateful for the CBI Community, the Jewish Community, the Human Community,” Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker continued.
“I am grateful that we made it out.”
“I am grateful to be alive.”
Rabbi issues Facebook statement
Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker and three other hostages were rescued Saturday night.
The Rabbi issued a statement on Facebook early Sunday Morning:
“I am thankful and filled with appreciation for
All of the vigils and prayers and love and support,
All of the law enforcement and first responders who cared for us,
All of the security training that helped save us.”
Brother of hostage taker statement, part four
“It is absolutely inexcusable for a Muslim to attack a Jew or for any Jew to attack a Muslim, Christian, Hindu vice versa etc etc.”
“Finally to all the people that have been bombarding us with non stop calls and texts please for the love of Allah STOP please STOP show some restraint and respect at such a difficult time for our family especially after losing our younger sibling barely 3 months ago.”
“Please if you can grant us some privacy as we are grieving privately in our homes. GULBAR <3”
Brother of hostage taker statement, part three
“A few minutes later a firefight has taken place and he was shot and killed. ILWIAR. There was nothing we could have said to him or done that would have convinced him to surrender.”
“The FBI are due to fly into the UK later today so we don’t have much else to share at the moment. Obviously our priority will be to get him back to the UK for his Funeral prayers although we have been warned it could take weeks.”
“We would also like to add that any attack on any human being be it a Jew, Christian or Muslim etc is wrong and should always be condemned.”
Brother of hostage taker statement, part two
“Sitting in the incident room all last night at Greenbank until the early hours liaising with Faisal, the negotiators, FBI etc And although my brother was suffering from mental health issues we were confident that he would not harm the hostages.”
“At around 3am the first person was released then an hour later he released the other 3 people through the fire door unharmed.”
“Don’t believe the bull**** in the media they were released from the fire exit and not rescued.”
Brother of hostage taker issues statement
The brother of Faisal Akram shared a written statement with Sky News:
“Salaam Family & Friends, it is with great great sadness I will confirm my brother Faisal passed away in Texas, USA this morning.”
“We are absolutely devastated as a family. We can’t say much now as their[sic] is an ongoing FBI investigation.”
“We would like to say that we as a family do not condone any of his actions and would like to sincerely apologize wholeheartedly to all the victims involved in the unfortunate incident.”
‘Act of terror’
Biden referred to the incident as an act of terrorism and answered a few questions from reporters during a hunger relief event in Philadelphia.
“We don’t have all the facts yet, but allegedly he purchased the weapons on the street after he landed,” the president said.
THE man who took hostages inside a Texas synagogue on Saturday was reportedly in the US less than a month before he bought guns on the street.
British national Malik Faisal Akram, 44, allegedly purchased weapons after he landed in the country, President Joe Biden said on Sunday.
No hostage injuries reported
A Colleyville PD spokeswoman, Sgt. Dara Nelson, told local outlet WFAA that no one was injured inside of Congregation Beth Israel.
In a press conference after the incident was resolved, the FBI and Colleyville PD said no hostages required medical attention.
Inside the rescue operation
During the rescue efforts, reporter on-scene at the Colleyville synagogue said those at the site were told to “hit the ground.”
“Just told to hit the ground. Either a bomb or shots fired just now,” tweeted reporter Jamie Landers.
“I’m told officials just cut the power inside Beth Israel,” Landers added.
“No word yet on what the bang was.”
FBI spoke to hostages
Four worshippers who were taken hostage at a Texas synagogue on Saturday morning are all “out alive and safe,” officials said.
They were interviewed by FBI officials before they were released to their homes.
Hostake-taker called New York rabbi
During the siege, the hostage-taker called Angela Buchdahl, senior rabbi at Central Synagogue in New York City to relay his demands and wanted her to use her influence to secure the release of Aafia Siddiqui.
The rabbi confirmed her involvement to the Jewish Telegraph Agency, and said she spoke twice to the hostage taker.
“I can confirm that the gunman reached out to me twice yesterday by phone,” Buchdahl wrote in an email.
“We are about to share a note with the congregation just confirming that. Other than that for security reasons I cannot share more.”
It is not clear why Buchdahl was called by the gunman.
Attack began during livestream
According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the attack on the Colleyville synagogue began while services were being livestreamed on Facebook.
The live recording reportedly captured muffled audio of what might have been negotiations with police.
No video footage of the events inside the synagogue was streamed, but speech from the suspect was audible, as well as the sound of a different voice apparently on the phone with police.
Beto O’Rourke makes statement
Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke also took to Twitter with comment.
“Sending strength to Colleyville as another Texas community is tragically targeted by a gunman,” he wrote during the crisis.
In a follow-up tweet, he said, “I’m thinking of the Jewish community across Texas on another terrifying day. No person should ever have to fear for their safety in their place of worship.
“We must address anti-Semitism while urgently working to fight hatred, bigotry, and violence throughout America.”
Ted Cruz makes statement
Senator Ted Cruz took to Twitter with a statement about the Colleyville hostage crisis.
“Heidi and I are praying for those at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville and for the SWAT team and all other law enforcement on the scene responding,” he tweeted.
“My staff and I are closely monitoring the situation and are in close contact with local and national authorities.”
President Biden’s statement, continued
“There is more we will learn in the days ahead about the motivations of the hostage taker,” said Biden.
“But let me be clear to anyone who intends to spread hate – we will stand against antisemitism and against the rise of extremism in this country.”
President Biden’s official statement
After the hostages were rescued, Biden said in a statement that he is “grateful to the tireless work of law enforcement at all levels who acted cooperatively and fearlessly to rescue the hostages.”
“We are sending love and strength to the members of Congregation Beth Israel, Colleyville, and the Jewish community.”