The Chronology of the Synagogue Hostage Standoff Sheds Light on the Suspect’s Travel in the United States | Latest News
Multiple law enforcement sources told ABC News on Monday that the British national who allegedly took a rabbi and three other people hostage inside a Texas synagogue on Saturday arrived in the United States last month and gave customs agents a hotel in New York as his local address.
According to the sources, the suspect, Malik Faisal Akram, 44, flew from London to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on December 29 and listed a hotel in Queens, New York, as his local address on a customs form.
The FBI is looking into whether Akram actually stayed at the hotel before flying to the Dallas-Fort Worth area on December 31.
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Malik Akram, Faisal
As investigators piece together Akram’s movements in the United States, they’ve determined he bought the handgun used in the hostage-taking on the street from someone he met at a local homeless shelter in Texas, according to law enforcement sources. According to them, the last time the gun was legally sold through a federally licensed dealer was in September 2019.
While in New York, Akram – who was killed by an FBI hostage rescue team after a nearly 11-hour standoff with authorities in Texas – also obtained a cellphone, which he apparently used up until his death, according to ABC News sources.
The suspect did not appear on any watch lists.
Akram’s name did not appear on any of the United States’ watch lists.
Investigators are now attempting to compile a comprehensive timeline of his movements since his arrival in New York. According to the sources, Akram spent about a week in homeless shelters and may have pretended to be homeless in order to gain access to the Texas synagogue during Shabbat services.
Authorities are looking into Akram’s mental health history as part of the investigation and working to determine whether any potential history should have come up during the vetting process for his travel to the United States.
According to ABC News, American and British authorities have spoken with Akram’s brother, who informed them that Akram has mental health issues.
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Law enforcement personnel are continuing their investigation into the hostage situation at Congregation…Read More
A friend of Akram’s family told the Associated Press on Monday that Akram had “mental health issues” in their community of Blackburn, England.
“He had mental health issues that were not properly diagnosed,” a family friend, Asif Mahmud, told the Associated Press.
Mahmud, a Blackburn community organizer, also stated that Akram had previously served a custodial sentence in England and questioned how he managed to get past U.S. immigration checks.
“Well, I know he obviously served a custodial sentence, so it had to be serious enough for him to serve a custodial sentence.” So he was known to the authorities for that reason,” Mahmud said, without elaborating on the crime for which Akram was sentenced. “But, for all intents and purposes, he lived what could be described as a normal existence.” He was a member of the community.”
According to British authorities, two teenagers have been arrested in England as part of an ongoing investigation into the hostage-taking incident. According to a Greater Manchester Police statement, the pair were detained in southern Manchester on Sunday evening and “remain in custody for questioning.” The teens are Akram’s children, according to multiple law enforcement sources in the United States.
During the standoff, the suspect called a rabbi in New York.
On Saturday, at 10:45 a.m. CST, police in Colleyville, Texas, received a 911 call reporting an intruder, later identified as Akram, aggressively confronting Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville.
Cytron-Walker told CBS News on Monday that Akram knocked on the synagogue’s door and invited him in for a cup of tea before Shabbat services. According to the rabbi, the suspect pulled a gun during the services, while his back was turned to Akram in prayer.
Following the kidnapping of Cytron-Walker and three other synagogue members, Akram was heard on a live-streamed video of the service saying he was holding four hostages, claiming to be armed with a gun and explosives, and stating that he was willing to die at the hands of police and that he was not acting on behalf of a foreign terrorist organization.
The Livestream was eventually interrupted by Facebook, but law enforcement officials were able to access the synagogue’s closed-circuit TV system, allowing the FBI to continue viewing the unfolding events in real-time, according to the sources.
Akram directed Cytron-Walker to contact Rabbi Angela Buchdahl of the Central Synagogue in Manhattan, who lives in New York. Akram allegedly threatened to kill the four hostages in a series of subsequent phone calls with Buchdahl if convicted terrorist and al-Qaida supporter Aafia Siddiqui was not released from Carswell Air Force Base near Fort Worth.
“I can confirm that the gunman called me twice (on Saturday),” Buchdahl wrote in an email to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in New York. “We’re about to send a note to the congregation just to confirm that.” Other than that, I’m afraid I can’t say much more for security reasons.”
An armored law enforcement vehicle is spotted in the area where a man is said to have taken…
According to ABC News, investigators are trying to figure out why Akram chose Buchdahl to speak with. Authorities suspect it was because she is the leader of a prominent synagogue in the city where Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist, was convicted in 2010 of assaulting and attempting to murder a US soldier and members of a US team sent to question her in 2008. She received an 86-year prison sentence.
Marwa Elbially, Siddiqui’s attorney, issued a statement over the weekend claiming that Siddiqui did not know Akram and condemning his actions.
An elite FBI team has been dispatched to assist.
As the hostage standoff continued on Saturday, authorities contacted the FBI’s hostage rescue team at the bureau’s headquarters in Quantico, Virginia, around 12:30 p.m. According to officials, the team was immediately dispatched to Colleyville.
Akram unharmed released one of the hostages around 5:30 p.m.
After Cytron-Walker and the two other hostages escaped when they bolted for an exit door as the rabbi threw a chair at the suspect, the FBI hostage rescue team entered the synagogue four hours later.
Akram was shot as the team entered the synagogue and died as a result of his injuries. According to sources, a handgun believed to belong to Akram was recovered inside the synagogue.