The FBI has identified the gunman who held hostages at a Texas synagogue for more than ten hours as Malik Faisal Akram, a British national.
According to Matthew DeSarno, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Dallas Field Office, Akram, 44, appears to be the sole suspect in Saturday’s hostage-taking at Colleyville’s Congregation Beth Israel synagogue.
The 44-year-old was not living in the United States but had recently travelled there before carrying out the attack on the synagogue in Colleyville on Saturday, Sky News reported.
Texas synagogue hostage
On Saturday evening, all hostages held in the synagogue were released without incident. The gunman, now identified as Akram, was killed, though the cause of death has not been disclosed.
Local police, the FBI, the Texas Department of Public Safety, and the North Tarrant Regional SWAT team responded to the hostage situation shortly after 10:30 a.m.
Akram had demanded the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist with an American education who is currently imprisoned in Texas on charges of attempting to murder a US soldier.
Siddiqui’s attorney, Marwa Elbially, told The Hill on Saturday that her client condemned the hostage-taking and “specifically made clear that she wants no violence in her name.”
Elbially also ruled out the possibility that the gunman was Siddiqui’s brother, as Akram reportedly claimed during the hostage situation.
“It didn’t even seem remotely plausible,” said the attorney. “I don’t even know why the assumption was made that it was her brother.”
Akram demanded release of Pakistani neuroscientist
On it the hostage-taker was heard demanding the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist suspected of having ties to al Qaeda, who was convicted of trying to kill US military officers while in custody in Afghanistan.
He said he wanted to speak to Siddiqui, who is being held at FMC Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas, following her conviction in 2010.
Witnesses claim he referred to her as his sister, but John Floyd, of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Siddiqui’s brother was not involved.
“This assailant has nothing to do with Dr Aafia, her family, or the global campaign to get justice for Dr Aafia,” he said.
“We want the assailant to know that his actions are wicked and directly undermine those of us who are seeking justice for Dr Aafia.”
What the family of Malik Faisal Akram said
Akram’s family say they are “devastated” by his death, adding that they “do not condone any of his actions and would like to sincerely apologize wholeheartedly to all the victims involved in the unfortunate incident”.
In a statement, Akram’s brother Gulbar said family members spent hours “liasing with Faisal” during the siege, and that although he 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,” Gulbar said.
The Metropolitan Police’s counter-terrorism unit is “liaising with US authorities and colleagues from the FBI”, which has said there is no indication there were any other individuals involved in the attack.