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What are the rules on entering America if you have criminal record? 

By Jack Newman 

Malik Faisal Akram is thought to have entered the US two weeks ago despite having a long criminal record, according to his brother.

The UK is part of the Visa Waiver Program, meaning travellers can enter the US for business or tourism for stays of up to 90 days without a visa.

Instead, tourists must fill out an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) form which includes questions on an applicant’s criminal history.

The ESTA website states: ‘If you have a criminal record, you may not be granted permission to enter the US, as depending on the type of record, you may be deemed as a risk and the government will decline your application for an ESTA or other kind of visa.’ 

The questions on the form relating to criminal activity include:  

  • Have you ever been arrested or convicted for a crime that resulted in serious damage to property, or serious harm to another person or government authority?
  • Have you ever violated any law related to possessing, using, or distributing illegal drugs?
  • Do you seek to engage in or have you ever engaged in terrorist activities, espionage, sabotage, or genocide?
  • Have you ever committed fraud or misrepresented yourself or others to obtain, or assist others to obtain, a visa or entry into the United States?
  • Are you currently seeking employment in the United States or were you previously employed in the United States without prior permission from the U.S. government?
  • Have you ever been denied a U.S. visa you applied for with your current or previous passport, or have you ever been refused admission to the United States or withdrawn your application for admission at a U.S. port of entry?
  • Have you ever stayed in the United States longer than the admission period granted to you by the U.S. government?
  • Have you traveled to, or been present in Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen on or after March 1, 2011?

Crimes against a person, property or government authority are considered ‘moral turpitude’ offences in the US.

Crimes against the person include murder, manslaughter, rape, gross indecency serious assaults and kidnapping; crimes against property include arson, burglary, theft, robbery and receiving stolen goods; crimes against government authority include benefit fraud, tax evasion, bribery and perjury. 

Anyone who has committed a crime of ‘moral turpitude’ will not be granted entry to the US. 

The only exceptions are if the offence was committed when the traveller was under the age of 18 and five years have elapsed since the date of conviction or release, or the maximum possible sentence for the crime was 12 months and six months were served.

Anyone who has two or more offences, regardless of whether they were crimes of moral turpitude, in which the total sentences exceeded five years , will also be barred entry to the US.  

The ESTA website states: ‘Even if you do not disclose any criminal convictions on your application, a check will be made to see if you have any on file. If you were found to have a criminal conviction then your application will be denied.’

However, according to social justice charity Nacro, the US authorities do not have access to criminal records held on the UK’s Police National Computer.

If the US authorities have concerns about a particular traveller, they can request information from the Home Office, although this is said to be very rare. 

This means it could be possible to lie on the form and enter the country.

Charity Unlock, which helps people with previous convictions, says people who lie on the ESTA are ‘generally able to travel with no difficulties’, but it is a risk as it is a criminal offence. 

The US Embassy in the UK also states: ‘We do not recommend that travelers who have been arrested, even if the arrest did not result in a criminal conviction, have a criminal record, certain serious communicable illness, have been refused admission into, or have been deported from, the United States, or have previously overstayed under the terms of the Visa Waiver Program, attempt to travel visa free under the Visa Waiver Program.’

Travellers can instead apply for a visa but this can be a long and expensive process.

This involves an interview at the US Embassy in London ahead of the visit where a more thorough assessment of criminality can be undertaken, but charities say people who are denied entry under the Visa Waiver Program will also be unlikely to be granted a visa. 

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The British Muslim shot dead after taking worshippers hostage in a Texas synagogue at gunpoint ranted about wishing he had died in the 9/11 terror attacks, MailOnline can exclusively reveal today.

As police in the US and UK scramble to find if he was part of a wider terror cell, it has emerged that Malik Faisal Akram, 44, from Blackburn, Lancashire, was branded a ‘menace’ for expressing his desire to be on board one of the planes that destroyed the World Trade Centre in 2001.   

The terror suspect was given a rare Exclusion Order at Blackburn’s magistrates’ court – the first in 25 years – for raving about 9/11 just hours after the attack that claimed more than 2,750 lives.

A letter sent to Akram confirming the ban stated: ‘Once again you were threatening and abusive towards court staff. In a clear reference to the terrorist attack on New York the previous day you said on more than one occasion to one of my court ushers you should have been on the f***ing plane’.

The incident 20 years ago raises questions about whether he was known to the security services on either side of the Atlantic – and how he managed to get into the United States two weeks ago with a significant criminal record. 

Since jetting in from Britain he had been living in various homeless shelters in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and bought his guns ‘on the street’ just before the attack.

Today it emerged that Akram’s family had been working with police in Texas to convince him to give himself up during the 11-hour siege at the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, 27 miles from Dallas. 

Last night two teenagers, who have not been named, were arrested by British counter-terrorism officers in south Manchester last night and remain in custody.

His younger sibling Gulbar said he and other relatives were called into Greenbank police station in Blackburn to speak with his older brother, who was armed and claimed to be carrying a bomb. In a live Facebook feed of a service he was heard shouting at the congregation in a strong northern British accent: ‘If anyone tries to enter this building – everyone will die’. He added: ‘I’m gunned up. I’m ammo-ed up. Guess what, I will die. I am going to die, so don’t cry for me’ before hurling anti-Semitic insults.

Speaking to FBI agents, he had also demanded the release of jailed female terrorist Aafia Siddiqu – 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 referred to her as his ‘sister’ during the attack but the pair are not related. She is being held in a jail about 20 miles from Colleyville.

After agreeing to release one of his hostages, two more hostages were seen running out of a side door, chased by Akram waving a handgun. Soon afterwards a FBI rescue team stormed the building and Akram later died in a hail of bullets at around 10pm on Saturday night.

Gulbar Akram said: ‘There was nothing we could have said to him or done that would have convinced him to surrender’, before demanding how he was allowed into America despite a long criminal record. The extent of his criminal record is not yet clear, but it may be that some of his offences may have been too petty or too old to stop him being turned away from the United States’ border.

It is also possible that his 9/11 rants and other crimes may not have been picked up if he lied about not being a criminal because the US authorities do not routinely have access to Britain’s criminal record information database.

Akram had apparently flown to America two weeks ago, lived in homeless shelters and bought a gun ‘on the street’, according to US President Joe Biden. 

He was described by his family as suffering ‘mental health issues’ but concerns over a wider plot grew last night as two teenagers were arrested over the incident by anti-terror officers in south Manchester.

The pair, both believed to be under 18, cannot be identified for legal reasons. They were still in custody overnight, Greater Manchester Police said. 

However the FBI’s field office in Dallas had earlier said there was ‘no indication’ that anyone else was involved in what President Biden called ‘an act of terror’. 

As FBI agents landed in the UK to work with British police, it also emerged today:  

  • Two teenagers, both believed to be under 16, are being questioned by UK counter-terrorism police after being arrested in Manchester;
  • The Texas synagogue terrorist had asked negotiator to bring Aafia Siddiqu – known as Lady Al Qaeda – and that she be brought to the synagogue so they could both ‘die together’. She is in a jail 25 miles away;
  • British extremist Anjem Choudary has been campaigning online for Siddiqui’s release;
  • Akram’s links to Pakistan are also being probed, having been a regular visitor to the country where his father was born. He was reportedly a supporter of the conservative Tablighi Jamaat group, set up to ‘purify’ Islam. It denies being a terror group – but members are banned from Saudi after the organisation was branded ‘one of the gates of terrorism’ by the Gulf state. 

The terrorist was banned in September 2001 and described as a ‘menace’ after officials complained that he was persistently causing trouble inside Blackburn magistrates court even when he was not appearing before the bench.

The ban followed a series of incidents which culminated with Akram abusing court ushers over the New York attacks.

Under the order, Akram was warned that if he entered the court complex, he could be detained under the Contempt of Court Act and face a possible prison sentence or £2,500 fine.

The rare Exclusion Order was made against him under Section 12 of the Contempt of Court Act and had only ever been used once before at Blackburn Magistrates’ Court.

Akram was reported as saying in a local newspaper at the time: ‘I’m innocent. This is nothing to do with me because I didn’t say that. People at the court have just got it in for me because they don’t like me.’ 

Mr Wells described Akram as a ‘menace’ who had a long history of abusing court staff.

Malik Faisal Akram, 44, (pictured) was shot dead by the FBI's elite Hostage Rescue Team after holding four hostages for more than 10 hours at Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas on Saturday

Malik Faisal Akram, 44, (pictured) was shot dead by the FBI's elite Hostage Rescue Team after holding four hostages for more than 10 hours at Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas on Saturday

Malik Faisal Akram, 44, (pictured) was shot dead by the FBI's elite Hostage Rescue Team after holding four hostages for more than 10 hours at Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas on Saturday

Malik Faisal Akram, 44, (pictured) was shot dead by the FBI's elite Hostage Rescue Team after holding four hostages for more than 10 hours at Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas on Saturday

Malik Faisal Akram, 44, (pictured) was shot dead by the FBI’s elite Hostage Rescue Team after holding four hostages for more than 10 hours at Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas on Saturday 

Malik Faisal Akram, who was known as Faisal Akram, had ranted that he wished he had died in the 9/11 terror attacks. He was a regular visitor to Pakistan and reportedly a member of the Tablighi Jamaat group, set up to “purify” Islam

Malik Faisal Akram, who was known as Faisal Akram, had ranted that he wished he had died in the 9/11 terror attacks. He was a regular visitor to Pakistan and reportedly a member of the Tablighi Jamaat group, set up to “purify” Islam

Malik Faisal Akram, who was known as Faisal Akram, had ranted that he wished he had died in the 9/11 terror attacks. He was a regular visitor to Pakistan and reportedly a member of the Tablighi Jamaat group, set up to ‘purify’ Islam

A post shared on social media asked for forgiveness for British terrorist Faisal Akram, 44, who was shot dead by an FBI SWAT team after a 10-hour armed stand-off  at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas

A post shared on social media asked for forgiveness for British terrorist Faisal Akram, 44, who was shot dead by an FBI SWAT team after a 10-hour armed stand-off  at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas

A post shared on social media asked for forgiveness for British terrorist Faisal Akram, 44, who was shot dead by an FBI SWAT team after a 10-hour armed stand-off  at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas

US President Joe Biden described Akram's actions as an 'act of terror' during a visit to a Philadelphia food bank on Sunday

US President Joe Biden described Akram's actions as an 'act of terror' during a visit to a Philadelphia food bank on Sunday

US President Joe Biden described Akram’s actions as an ‘act of terror’ during a visit to a Philadelphia food bank on Sunday

One of the hostages at the Congregation Beth Israel in, Colleyville, Texas, was released and taken to his family. Authorities have said all hostages are now out and safe after the terrorist was shot

One of the hostages at the Congregation Beth Israel in, Colleyville, Texas, was released and taken to his family. Authorities have said all hostages are now out and safe after the terrorist was shot

One of the hostages at the Congregation Beth Israel in, Colleyville, Texas, was released and taken to his family. Authorities have said all hostages are now out and safe after the terrorist was shot

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss took to Twitter to condemn the 'appalling act of terrorism and anti-semitism in Texas'. Ms Truss added: 'We stand with US in defending the rights and freedoms of our citizens against those who spread hate'

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss took to Twitter to condemn the 'appalling act of terrorism and anti-semitism in Texas'. Ms Truss added: 'We stand with US in defending the rights and freedoms of our citizens against those who spread hate'

Greg Abbott tweeted

Greg Abbott tweeted

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss took to Twitter to condemn the ‘appalling act of terrorism and anti-Semitism in Texas’. Ms Truss added: ‘We stand with US in defending the rights and freedoms of our citizens against those who spread hate’

The standoff took place at the Congregation Beth Israel, in Colleyville, just 27 miles from Dallas

The standoff took place at the Congregation Beth Israel, in Colleyville, just 27 miles from Dallas

The standoff took place at the Congregation Beth Israel, in Colleyville, just 27 miles from Dallas

President Joe Biden says hostage situation at Texas synagogue was an ‘act of terror’ 

President Joe Biden said on Sunday that a gunman who disrupted a religious service in a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas and took four people hostage had engaged in an ‘act of terror.’

‘This was an act of terror; it was an act of terror,’ Biden said of the Saturday incident.

He added that there was not sufficient information on why the gunman had targeted the synagogue.

Biden indicated that he would have more to say and more information to share during his planned Wednesday press conference

Biden indicated that he would have more to say and more information to share during his planned Wednesday press conference

Biden indicated that he would have more to say and more information to share during his planned Wednesday press conference

The president spoke to reporters as he and First Lady Jill Biden volunteered packing carrots and apples at a Philadelphia-area food bank to honor the legacy of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

 An FBI Hostage Rescue Team stormed the synagogue on Saturday night to free the remaining three hostages; one other hostage had been freed earlier. 

Earlier on Sunday the agency identified the suspect as 44-year-old Malik Faisal Akram, a British national from the town of Blackburn in England. 

He was shot dead by federal law enforcement officials who stormed the synagogue at the end of a 10-hour stand-off.

Biden gave additional details about Akram during brief remarks at the Philabundance food bank.

‘I don’t have all the facts and neither does the Attorney General, but allegedly the assertion was he got the weapons on the street, that he purchased them when he landed,’ Biden said.

‘And it turns out there were apparently no bombs that we know of, even though he said that there were bombs there as well.

‘He apparently spent the first night in a homeless shelter — I don’t have all the details, so I’m reluctant to go into much more detail, but allegedly he purchased it on the street. What that means, I don’t know if he purchased it from an individual in the homeless shelter or a homeless community.’

Biden said he has yet to contact Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who was leading the Sabbath service and was among Akram’s four hostages.

‘I’ll put a call into the Rabbi. We missed one another on the way up here, but rest assured, we are focused. We are focused,’ the president said. 

‘The attorney general is focused that we deal with these kinds of acts. And thank God we had such professional FBI as well as local cooperation. I was told it was incredible, so I just wanted to let you know that.’

Asked if the incident meant a new push to restrict firearm access, Biden said: ‘The idea of background checks are critical, but you can’t stop something like this if someone is on the street buying something from somebody else on the street.’ 

He indicated he would have more to say at his upcoming Wednesday press conference. 

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Malik’s brother Gulbar issued a statement on behalf of the family last night in which he told of their ‘devastation’ and revealed how relatives had been in contact with Malik during his attack at the police’s request but could not convince him to surrender.

But speaking to Sky News he also demanded to know how the incident had been allowed to unfold. ‘He’s known to police. Got a criminal record. How was he allowed to get a visa and acquire a gun?’, he said.

In his online statement posted hours earlier, Gulbar wrote: ‘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 there 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.

‘Sitting in the incident room all last night at Greenbank [Police Station in Blackburn] 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.

‘There was nothing we could have said to him or done that would have convinced him to surrender.

‘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.

‘It is absolutely inexcusable for a Muslim to attack a Jew or for any Jew to attack a Muslim, Christian, Hindu vice versa etc.’

A later post shared on Facebook by Blackburn Muslim Community pleaded for patience and respect for the family. The statement read: ‘Faisal Akram has sadly departed from this temporary world and returned to his Creator.

‘May the Almighty forgive all his sins and bless him with the highest ranks of Paradise. May Allah give strength and patience to his loved ones in dealing with their loss.’

It remained unclear this morning why Akram flew to Texas, 4,700 miles away from his Lancashire home, to carry out his attack.

He was shot dead at around 9pm local time (3pm GMT) by the FBI’s elite Hostage Rescue Team after holding four hostages, including the rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker for ten hours.

The incident began when Akram entered the building as it was livestreaming a service, shouting that he had weapons and ‘backpacks of explosives’ on him. 

From inside the Texas synagogue, the assailant told a SWAT team: ‘If anyone tries to enter this building, I’m telling you…everyone will die.’

He could be heard ranting, in what appeared to be a British accent, on the synagogue’s Sabbath livestream, before it was cut off at 2pm CST, saying: ‘I’m going to die. Don’t cry about me’

‘Are you listening? I am going to die,’ he repeated over and over.

Leaders from the Islamic Center of Southlake, who have worked closely with Rabbi Cytron-Walker to help unite the faithful in the Dallas-Fort Worth area came out to the scene to denounce the attack and pray for their friend.

‘We want to see him again as soon as possible,’ said Shahzad Mahmud, the former president of the Islamic Center. ‘We just want to make sure he goes back to his family,’

One of the hostages was freed early in the incident and the other three fled to safety shortly before it ended.

Dramatic footage revealed the moment two hostages ran out of the temple followed by Akram who chased them with a gun before quickly retreating back inside and closing the door after spotting the nearby SWAT team. Dozens of agents then breach the synagogue as gunshots can be heard.

FBI special agent Matt Desarno said the agency’s Hostage Rescue Team, who were flown in from Quantico in Virginia, entered the synagogue at around 9pm local time, freed the hostages and killed the suspect.

‘There is no question that this was a traumatic experience,’ Cytron-Walker said in a statement last night. ‘We are resilient and we will recover.’ 

Rabbi Cytron-Walker in his statement credited his congregation’s previous security training from the FBI and others with their survival from a harrowing ordeal.

Armored vehicles were been seen in the area around the synagogue as the attack unfolded on Saturday

Armored vehicles were been seen in the area around the synagogue as the attack unfolded on Saturday

Armored vehicles were been seen in the area around the synagogue as the attack unfolded on Saturday

Emergency response vehicles and around 200 local and Federal police attended the site while the four hostages were still inside

Emergency response vehicles and around 200 local and Federal police attended the site while the four hostages were still inside

Emergency response vehicles and around 200 local and Federal police attended the site while the four hostages were still inside 

The four hostages were held inside the synagogue (pictured in 2020) by British gunman Malik Akram from Blackburn

The four hostages were held inside the synagogue (pictured in 2020) by British gunman Malik Akram from Blackburn

The four hostages were held inside the synagogue (pictured in 2020) by British gunman Malik Akram from Blackburn

‘In the last hour of our hostage crisis, the gunman became increasingly belligerent and threatening,’ the rabbi said.

‘Without the instruction we received, we would not have been prepared to act and flee when the situation presented itself.’

During a visit to a Philadelphia food bank, U.S President Joe Biden today described Akram’s actions as an ‘act of terror’, adding that there was not yet sufficient information as to why the gunman had specifically targeted a synagogue.

Biden later added that it is understood that Akram purchased the weapons used during the stand-off ‘on the street’ and spent his first night in the US ‘in a homeless shelter’.

‘He purchased them when he landed and it turns out there apparently were no bombs that we know of. … Apparently he spent the first night in a homeless shelter. I don’t have all the details yet so I’m reluctant to go into much more detail,’ the President added.

‘I don’t think there is sufficient information to know about why he targeted that synagogue, why he insisted on the release of someone who’s been in prison for over 10 years, why he was engaged, why he was using anti-Semitic and anti-Israel comments’.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss took to Twitter to condemn the ‘appalling act of terrorism and anti-semitism in Texas’. Ms Truss added: ‘We stand with US in defending the rights and freedoms of our citizens against those who spread hate.’

Assistant Chief Constable Dominic Scally, for Counter Terror Policing North West, said they are helping with the investigation being led by authorities in the US.

He said: ‘Firstly, our thoughts remain with everyone affected by the terrible events that took place in Texas on 15 January.

‘We can confirm that the suspect, who is deceased, is 44-year-old Malik Faisal Akram, originally from the Blackburn area of Lancashire.

‘I can also confirm that Counter Terror Policing North West is assisting with the investigation being led by the US authorities.

‘Police forces in the region will continue to liaise with their local communities, including the Jewish community, and will put in place any necessary measures to provide reassurance to them.’

Following the arrests, the force added: ‘Two teenagers were detained in South Manchester this evening. They remain in custody.’

Aafia Siddiqui is see here in an undated photo after her graduation from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Aafia Siddiqui is see here in an undated photo after her graduation from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker (pictured) and three others were held hostage

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker (pictured) and three others were held hostage

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker (right) was one of four being held hostage by Akram, who claimed to be the brother of convicted terrorist Aafia Siddiqui (left) known as Lady Al Qaeda 

Armored vehicles were at the scene where the assailant claimed to have bombs as the FBI attempted to diffuse the situation

Armored vehicles were at the scene where the assailant claimed to have bombs as the FBI attempted to diffuse the situation

Armored vehicles were at the scene where the assailant claimed to have bombs as the FBI attempted to diffuse the situation

Law enforcement also gathered at the Colleyville Elementary School to help evacuate local residents

Law enforcement also gathered at the Colleyville Elementary School to help evacuate local residents

Law enforcement also gathered at the Colleyville Elementary School to help evacuate local residents

Local and federal authorities worked together and managed to free all four hostages safely

Local and federal authorities worked together and managed to free all four hostages safely

Local and federal authorities worked together and managed to free all four hostages safely 

FBI special agent Matthew DeSarno told reporters in Colleyville after the standoff that the investigation would ‘have global reach.’

He said the suspect’s demands were ‘focused on one issue that was not specifically threatening to the Jewish community.’

Britain’s ambassador to Washington confirmed that British authorities were ‘providing our full support to Texas and US law enforcement agencies.’

The Muslim man can be heard saying the live stream (pictured) that he was 'going to die' repeatedly on a livestream of the incident

The Muslim man can be heard saying the live stream (pictured) that he was 'going to die' repeatedly on a livestream of the incident

The Muslim man can be heard saying the live stream (pictured) that he was ‘going to die’ repeatedly on a livestream of the incident

Aafia, now 49, was jailed for 86 years after being arrested in Afghanistan in 2008 for the attempted murder of a US army captain.

The Pakistani-born neuroscientist was found with two kilos of poison sodium cyanide and plans for chemical attacks on New York’s Brooklyn Bridge and the Empire State Building.

She was handed to the Americans and convicted of attempted murder two years later in a US court.

Her attorney, Marwa Elbially, told CNN that her client has no involvement in the hostage situation.

‘She does not want any violence perpetrated against any human being, especially in her name,’ Elbially said.

‘It obviously has nothing to do with Dr. Siddiqui or her family.’

Jonh Floyd, of the Houston branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, also confirmed Aafia’s family was not involved in the current hostage situation, and that they condemn the suspect’s actions.

‘We want the hostage-taker to know that Dr. Aafia Siddiqui and her family strongly condemn this act and do not stand by you,’ Floyd wrote in a statement directed at the hostage taker.

‘We want the assailant to know that his actions are wicked and directly undermine those of us who are seeking justice for Dr. Aafia.’

Aafia’s hatred for the US was so strong that during her interrogation after her arrest she grabbed a rifle from one of her guards and shot at them shouting: ‘Death to Americans.’

She came to the US in 1991 and won a partial scholarship to MIT, where she was a biology major.

The SWAT team was on standby as the FBI spoke with the suspect and investigated his background

The SWAT team was on standby as the FBI spoke with the suspect and investigated his background

The SWAT team was on standby as the FBI spoke with the suspect and investigated his background

Members of the Islamic Center of Southlake came out to show support for their friend, Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who they have worked with for years to help unite the faithful in the Dallas-Fort Worth area

Members of the Islamic Center of Southlake came out to show support for their friend, Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who they have worked with for years to help unite the faithful in the Dallas-Fort Worth area

Members of the Islamic Center of Southlake came out to show support for their friend, Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who they have worked with for years to help unite the faithful in the Dallas-Fort Worth area

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, pictured with wife Adena Cytron-Walker, was described as a much-respected figure in the community

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, pictured with wife Adena Cytron-Walker, was described as a much-respected figure in the community

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, pictured with wife Adena Cytron-Walker, was described as a much-respected figure in the community

The Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett Tweeted he was also monitoring the situation as it unfolded on Saturday

The Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett Tweeted he was also monitoring the situation as it unfolded on Saturday

The Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett Tweeted he was also monitoring the situation as it unfolded on Saturday

Siddiqui was sent by her neurosurgeon father from Pakistan to study in the U.S. on her own and won a partial scholarship to study at the prestigious Cambridge school.

She arrived there in 1991 having been living with her brother in Texas for a year where she studied at the University of Houston and gave regular speeches on Islam.

During one she told the crowd: ‘The hijab is not a restriction. It allows a woman to be judged by her content, not by her packaging, by what is written on the pages, not the pretty artwork on the cover’

In 1993, she wanted to do ‘something to help our Muslim brothers and sisters’ even if it meant breaking the law.

The mother of three was radicalized after the 9/11 terror attacks, divorcing her husband and moving back to Pakistan, where she remarried Ammar Al-Baluchi, the nephew of 9/11 architect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

What happened in Pakistan before her arrest is unclear and even during her U.S. trial judge Richard Berman said he did not know what she was doing.

But even now such is her importance as a symbol of defiance to the West that Islamic State fighters publicly stated they wanted to swap her for James Foley, the American photojournalist they executed earlier this year.

She is serving an 86-year sentence at the Federal Medical Center, Carswell in Fort Worth, about 25 miles from the hostage site at the Texas temple.

During her trial, Aafia demanded that every jury member get DNA tested to see if they were Jewish.

‘I have a feeling everyone here is them [Jews], subject [them] to genetic testing… They should be excluded if you want to be fair,’ she told a federal judge in 2010.

Congregation Beth Israel is a Reform Jewish synagogue in the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area, which has about 70,000 Jewish people, one of the largest communities in the state.

Who is Aafia Siddiqui, the ‘Lady Al Qaeda’ terrorist who planned chemical attacks on Empire State Building and Brooklyn Bridge

Siddiqui, who was a biology major at MIT, said in 1993 that she wanted to do ‘something to help our Muslim brothers and sisters’ even if it meant breaking the law.

She jumped to her feet and ‘raised her skinny little wrists in the air’ in a display of defiance that shocked her friends.

An in-depth account of her journey to infamy also reveals that she took a National Rifle Association shooting class and persuaded other Muslims to learn how to fire a gun.

Siddiqui lied to her husband and after they wed over the phone he was stunned to discover she was just marrying him for his family’s connections to better enable her to wage jihad.

Two handout photos of terror suspect Aafia Siddiqui released by the FBI in May of 2004

Two handout photos of terror suspect Aafia Siddiqui released by the FBI in May of 2004

Two handout photos of terror suspect Aafia Siddiqui released by the FBI in May of 2004

Siddiqui, a mother-of-three, eventually got her twisted wish and became the most wanted woman in the world by the FBI. 

She was handed to the Americans and convicted of attempted murder in a U.S. court in 2010.

But her hatred for the U.S. was so strong that during her interrogation she grabbed a rifle from one of her guards and shot at them shouting: ‘Death to Americans’.

A 2014 Boston Globe profile of Siddiqui’s time in Boston sought to answer what happened during her 11 years as a student in the U.S.

Something happened to radicalize an intelligent and devout woman who not only graduated from MIT but also got a doctorate in neuroscience from Brandeis University. 

At MIT she made few friends and was remembered as intelligent, driven and a regular at the Prospect Street mosque, which would later be attended by alleged Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

She wore long sleeves and the hijab and was seen as ‘very sweet’ for a former roommate at her all-female dorm.

The focus of her life was the Muslim Student Association but things appear to have changed with the start of the Bosnian War, which seems to have been the beginning of her radicalization.

Siddiqui became involved with the Al-Kifah Refugee Centre, a Brooklyn-based organization which is thought to have been Al Qaeda’s focus of operations in the US.

Terrorism expert Evan Kohlmann said: ‘Aafia was from a prominent family with connections and a sympathy for jihad. She was just what they needed.’

She was arrested in Afghanistan in 2008 by local forces who found her with two kilos of poison sodium cyanide and plans for chemical attacks on New York’s Brooklyn Bridge and the Empire State Building

In 1993 as she and some friends debated how to raise money for Muslims being killed during the Bosnian War, one of them joked that they didn’t want to go on the FBI’s Most Wanted List.

Waqas Jilani, then a graduate student at Clark University, said: ‘She raised her skinny little wrists in the air and said: ‘I’d be proud to be on the Most Wanted list because it would mean I’m doing something to help our Muslim brothers and sisters’

‘She said we should all be proud to be on that list’. 

Jilani added that Siddiqui said in her speeches that Muslims should ‘get training and go overseas and fight’.

He said: ‘We were all laughing like, ‘Uh-oh, Aafia’s got a gun!’

‘Part of it was because she was such a bad shot, but also because she was always mouthing off about the U.S. and the FBI being so bad and all.’

Siddiqui married Mohammed Amjad Khan, the son of a wealthy Pakistani family, in a ceremony carried out over the phone before he flew to Boston.

But upon arrival he discovered that far from being the quiet religious woman he had been promised, her life was very different.

He said: ‘I discovered that the well-being of our nascent family unit was not her prime goal in life. Instead, it was to gain prominence in Muslim circles.’

Khan described to the Boston Globe how she regularly watched videos of Osama bin Laden, spent weekends at terror training camps in New Hampshire with activists from Al-Kifah and begged him to quit his medical job so he could join her.

In the end he stopped bringing work colleagues home because she would ‘only to talk about them converting to Islam’.

Khan said: ‘Invariably this would lead to unpleasantness, so I decided to keep my work separate….

‘…By now, all her focus had shifted to jihad against America, instead of preaching to Americans so that they all become Muslims and America becomes a Muslim land’.

The breaking point was the September 11 2001 attacks after which Siddiqui, who was by now dressing in all black, insisted they return to Pakistan and got a divorce.

American officials suspect she remarried Ammar Al-Baluchi, the nephew of 9/11 architect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, though her family deny this.

Siddiqui and her children disappeared in Karachi, Pakistan in 2003 shortly after Mohammed was arrested.

The following year she was named by FBI director Robert Mueller as one of the seven most wanted Al Qaeda operatives, and the only woman. 

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Source: dailymail

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