New details emerge on Texas synagogue hostage taker; possible accomplices arrested in England
COLLEYVILLE, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) — On January 16 the FBI Dallas Field Office identified the man shot and killed after taking four people hostage at a Colleyville synagogue as Malik Faisal Akram of Blackburn, England.
One day later CBS News confirmed more information about Akram and the two teenagers arrested in Manchester, England who are believed to be connected with the case.
The CBS Investigative Unit has confirmed that Malik Faisal Akram traveled by plane from the UK to New York Kennedy Airport.
It has not been determined yet, how Akram traveled from New York to North Texas.
According to a law enforcement source, Akram flew to JFK Airport in New York a few days before New Years — possibly on December 29. He is believed to have spent a several days in the New York area, staying at an inexpensive hotel, before flying to North Texas.
Once in the Metroplex, officials say Akram stayed at a hotel, then a homeless shelter. At some point he apparently bought ‘on the street’ or was given a handgun, which was loaded.
When Akram went to Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville he was said to have looked ‘displaced’, and was welcomed into the synagogue after telling those there that he was homeless. Once inside he took four people hostage, holding them inside the temple for more than 10 hours.
As a SWAT team negotiated with Akram, even putting him in touch with his family across the ocean, the 44-year-old suspect reportedly began demanding the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani-born scientist behind bars in a federal prison in the DFW. The neuroscientist is suspected of having ties to al-Qaida and was convicted of trying to kill US Army officers in Afghanistan.
Investigators confirmed Monday that they were in contact with Siddiqui as they tried to figure out what connection, if any, she had to Akram. Officials say it is unclear if the suspect knew her or was just inspired by her after reading information online. During a live livestream of Sabbath services at Beth Israel, Akram could be heard demanding the release of Siddiqui.
CBS sources say Akram was becoming more unstable and agitated as unsuccessful negotiations continued. It was then that the decision was made for the rescue team to breach the building and attempt to save the hostages.
During an interview on CBS Mornings Beth Israel Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker reaclled how he and the others inside tried to keep Akram occupied, but when the gunman told them to get on their knees he knew it was time to try and escape.
The Rabbi and another man being held hostage yelled for everyone to run and Cytron-Walker said he did what he could to stop Akram. “I told them to go. I threw a chair at the gunman, and I headed for the door. And all three of us were able to get out without even a shot being fired.” The first hostage had been released earlier in the afternoon.
Akram was shot and killed as federal agents stormed the temple.
Later on Sunday in England, Greater Manchester Police confirmed the arrest of two teenagers in connection with the North Texas standoff. CBS News has learned those boys are Akram’s sons and that he had been in contact with them the day of the hostage siege. On Monday investigators were still working to learn what, if anything, the boys knew about their father and the hostage situation.
The FBI Joint Terrorist Task Force is handling the case. FBI legal liaison agents assigned to London are actively working with British officials on the investigation.
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