Texas synagogue siege: hostage situation in US explained - as British man shot dead and 2 teens arrested

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Hostage-taker Malik Faisal Akram, from Britain, was shot dead by the FBI after a 10-hour siege in a Texas synagogue

A British man has been shot dead after he flew to the US, bought a weapon and held people hostage in a 10-hour stand-off at a synagogue in Texas.

Malik Faisal Akram, originally from Blackburn in Lancashire, was shot dead by the FBI when they entered the building on Saturday (15 January) night.

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Police have also arrested two teenagers in Manchester over the incident.

The hostage situation has been called “an act of terror” by the US President Joe Biden, with the authorities in America and the UK working on the investigation.

Here we take a look at what happened in the synagogue siege and the latest on the two arrests in England.

What happened at the Texas synagogue siege?

The Congregation Beth Israel synagogue is seen on January 16, 2022 in Colleyville, Texas.  (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)The Congregation Beth Israel synagogue is seen on January 16, 2022 in Colleyville, Texas.  (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
The Congregation Beth Israel synagogue is seen on January 16, 2022 in Colleyville, Texas. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images) | Getty Images

The siege began at around 11am local time at the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in the suburb of Dallas.

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Akram reportedly gained access to the building by claiming to be homeless, according to reports in the US.

The hostage situation then lasted around 10 hours, with the synagogue’s rabbi among the hostages.

One of the people held in the building was released after six hours with the other three led to safety by the police hours later. None of the four hostages were harmed.

The FBI stormed the building and killed Akram on Saturday evening.

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What were the motives of Malik Faisal Akram?

It is believed that Akram demanded the release of Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui.

He was convicted of trying to kill US army officers in Afghanistan, and is in prison in Texas.

FBI special agent in charge Matt DeSarno said they believed that Akram was “singularly focused on one issue and it was not specifically related to the Jewish community”, and added they will continue to “work to find motive”.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss called the incident an “act of terrorism and anti-semitism”.

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Who is Malik Faisal Akram?

Akram is believed to have had a visa and arrived at John F Kennedy International Airport in New York around two weeks ago.

Mr Biden said in an update on the incident that while they did not have all of the details yet, it was believed that the British man “got the weapons on the street”.

He said: “He purchased them when he landed.”

The US President added that there were “no bombs that we know of” and Akram is believed to have “spent the first night in a homeless shelter”.

Akram’s family released a statement saying they were “absolutely devastated” by the incident and that they “do not condone any of his actions”.

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The statement, which was attributed to Akram’s brother Gulbar and shared on the Blackburn Muslim Community Facebook page, added that the hostage-taker “was suffering from mental health issues”.

Gulbar was also involved in negotiating from the UK with his brother during the siege.

Akram’s family said in the statement: “We would like to say that we as a family do not condone any of his actions and would like to sincerely apologise wholeheartedly to all the victims involved in the unfortunate incident.”

Why have two teenagers in Manchester been arrested?

Officers from Counter Terror Policing North West made two arrests in south Manchester on Sunday (16 January) evening, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said.

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The teenagers, whose ages and genders have not been confirmed, remain in custody for questioning.

Police forces in the region are liaising with local communities to put in place any measures to provide further reassurance.

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