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‘An act of terror’: Biden condemns Texas synagogue siege while FBI names Briton as hostage-taker | Texas

US president Joe Biden has condemned a tense 11-hour hostage standoff at a synagogue in Texas on Saturday as “an act of terror”, as the FBI named the armed assailant as Malik Faisal Akram, a 44-year-old British nationwide.

Akram was pronounced lifeless after the FBI stormed the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue within the Dallas suburb of Colleyville on Saturday night. All 4 hostages survived the siege and have been unhurt, in accordance with native police.

UK safety sources confirmed to the Guardian that the suspect had been a resident of Blackburn in Lancashire.

The standoff started throughout a Saturday morning service on the Reform synagogue within the prosperous metropolis of round 26,000 residents. The service was being reside streamed on Fb when a person with a British accent could possibly be heard shouting off digital camera. The feed was ultimately lower hours later and police have been referred to as at round 10.41am.

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One male hostage, believed to be the synagogue’s rabbi, was launched at round 5pm as negotiations continued all through the day. Armed FBI officers stormed the constructing and rescued the three remaining hostages at round 9pm, authorities stated. Particulars of the way of Akram’s dying haven’t been launched.

Counter terrorism police in London confirmed they have been liaising with their US counterparts on Sunday as the FBI confirmed an lively investigation however added they believed Akram had acted alone.

Talking to reporters on Sunday, president Biden described the incident as “an act of terror” and confirmed he had been briefed by the US lawyer common, Merrick Garland.

President Joe Biden speaks about the rescue of hostages taken at a Texas synagogue, before boxing food at a hunger relief organization in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Sunday.
President Joe Biden speaks in regards to the rescue of hostages taken at a Texas synagogue, earlier than boxing meals at a starvation aid group in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Sunday. {Photograph}: Joshua Roberts/Reuters

Requested by reporters how Akram may have procured weapons within the US, Biden stated he didn’t have all of the details of the case however “the assertion was he acquired the weapons on the road. He bought them when he landed.”

It was not instantly clear how lengthy Akram had been within the US earlier than finishing up the assault. The US Division of Homeland Safety didn’t instantly reply to questions on when Akram entered the nation, and on what visa.

The president stated he had contacted the synagogue’s rabbi, Charlie Cytron-Walker, who posted an account of the incident to Facebook on Sunday. “I’m grateful that we made it out,” Cytron-Walker wrote. “I’m grateful to be alive.”

In a press release issued earlier, Biden, praised the “brave work” of regulation enforcement officers who responded to the scene and despatched “love and energy” to the synagogue’s worshippers and to members of the Jewish neighborhood.

FBI particular agent in cost, Matt DeSarno, stated the hostage taker was particularly centered on a problem circuitously linked to the Jewish neighborhood, and there was no fast indication that the person was half of any broader plan. However DeSarno stated the company’s investigation “can have international attain”.

Through the reside stream, Akram could possibly be heard demanding the discharge of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist suspected of having ties to al-Qaida, who was convicted in 2010 of making an attempt to kill US navy officers while in custody in Afghanistan. Siddiqui is in federal jail in Texas serving an 86-year sentence.

The hostage-taker referred to Siddiqui as his “sister” on the livestream, however John Floyd, board chair for the Houston chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations – the nation’s largest Muslim advocacy group – confirmed Siddiqui’s brother, Mohammad Siddiqui, was not concerned.

On Sunday the British international secretary, Liz Truss, condemned the incident in a press release posted on Twitter. “My ideas are with the Jewish neighborhood and all these affected by the appalling act in Texas. We condemn this act of terrorism and antisemitism,” Truss stated. She added: “We stand with US in defending the rights and freedoms of our residents towards those that unfold hate.”

Shortly after Akram was named as the hostage taker, a put up on the Blackburn Muslim Community Facebook page was uploaded, purportedly written by his brother Gulbar.

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The put up said that Akram “was affected by psychological well being points” however the household have been “assured that he wouldn’t hurt the hostages”. It said that relations had been sat in an incident room all evening liaising with Akram, the FBI and hostage negotiators.

The put up claimed that Akram launched all of the remaining three hostages earlier than “a firefight has taken place and he was shot and killed”.

“There was nothing we may have stated to him or accomplished that may have satisfied him to give up,” the put up states.

It provides: “We might additionally like so as to add that any assault on any human being be it a Jew, Christian or Muslim and so forth is fallacious and may all the time be condemned.”

The Guardian has not confirmed the veracity of the put up, however a written assertion with the identical phrases was reported by Sky News.

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