Texas synagogue hostage-taker was once probed by U.K. intelligence




  • In US
  • 2022-01-18 14:10:21Z
  • By NBC News

LONDON - A British man who held four people hostage at a synagogue in Texas on Saturday was known to U.K. intelligence, a British security source told NBC News.

Malik Faisal Akram, 44, was probed over suspected terrorist links but the case was closed by the time he traveled to the United States because it didn't meet the threshold for further investigation, the security source said. Akram was named by the FBI as the gunman in the 11-hour standoff at the Congregation Beth Israel that culminated in the hostages escaping unharmed before he was killed by federal agents.

Akram, who is from Lancashire in northeast England, was the subject of a short, low-level investigation by the U.K.'s MI5 domestic intelligence agency in the second half of 2020, the security source said. It lasted over a month and was based on information that he may have been involved in Islamist terrorism, the source added.

Suspect Malik Faisal Akram.
Suspect Malik Faisal Akram.  

When there was no indication of a terrorist threat, the source said, Akram joined approximately 40,000 other closed "subjects of interest" in Britain who have been investigated but not found to be plotting terrorist attacks.

The U.K.'s Home Office declined to comment, citing an ongoing police investigation. The news was first reported by the BBC.

Akram was fatally shot by the FBI Hostage Rescue Team, according to a senior law enforcement official.

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, 46, said on Monday that he and two members of his congregation were able to escape after he threw a chair at the man who had held them captive for 11 hours.

It was only afterward that police were able to enter the Reform synagogue, in the Fort Worth suburb of Colleyville, and confront the gunman.

In a statement on Sunday, Akram's family said he suffered from mental health problems and apologized to the victims.

During the standoff, Akram demanded the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a federal prisoner being held in north Texas after being convicted in 2010 of attempting to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan. But it hasn't been firmly established what else may have motivated him and why he chose the synagogue in Colleyville.

President Joe Biden called the attack "an act of terrorism." His comments were echoed by British and Israeli government officials.

A spokesperson for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday the attack was "a terrible and antisemitic act of terrorism."

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