Malik Faisal Akram: who was Blackburn born British man shot dead by FBI after Texas synagogue siege?

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Securing the release of Aafia Siddiqui - a Pakistani woman who is in a Texas prison near where the incident happened - was a possible motive for Malik Faisal Akram

A British man was shot dead by security services in the USA at the weekend after taking hostages in a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas.

After a 10-hour siege the FBI killed Malik Faisal Akram, who was holding four people at gunpoint in the Jewish place of worship.

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It’s believed he was trying to secure the release of a convicted terrorist - Aafia Siddiqui - although the man was also reportedly suffering from mental health problems.

US President Joe Biden described the incident as an act of terror.

So who exactly was Malik Faisal Akram, and how did he end up holding the synagogue hostage?

US President Joe Biden said it was believed Akram had got hold of the guns he used “on the street” (image: AFP/Getty Images)US President Joe Biden said it was believed Akram had got hold of the guns he used “on the street” (image: AFP/Getty Images)
US President Joe Biden said it was believed Akram had got hold of the guns he used “on the street” (image: AFP/Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

What happened in Texas synagogue siege?

The siege started at 11am local time on Saturday (15 January) at the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville - close to the city of Dallas, Texas.

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It was caught on camera because the synagogue was livestreaming its morning Shabbat service on Facebook at the time.

This broadcast ended around three hours into the siege.

The hostage situation took place at the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas (image: AFP/Getty Images)The hostage situation took place at the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas (image: AFP/Getty Images)
The hostage situation took place at the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas (image: AFP/Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

Malik Faisal Akram reportedly gained access to the building after having claimed to be homeless.

He then took four people hostage, bringing about a 10-hour siege by the FBI.

One person was freed after six hours, with the rest - including the synagogue’s rabbi - making an escape shortly before the authorities stormed the building and killed Akram.

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All four hostages were unharmed - although the rabbi, Charlie Cytron-Walker said Akram became "increasingly belligerent and threatening" as the siege went on.

The rabbi revealed he prompted the escape by throwing a chair at Akram as his fellow hostages ran for the exit.

Mr Cytron-Walker then said he was able to make a dash for the exit without a single shot being fired at him.

Who was Malik Faisal Akram?

Malik Faisal Akram was a 44-year-old British man from Blackburn, Lancashire.

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Not much is known about his background or life, but the PA news agency has reported he had a criminal record.

The Guardian has revealed Akram was the subject of a “mid-level” investigation by MI5 in 2020 as the UK security service deemed him a potential Islamist terror threat.

By the time of the synagogue siege, however, he was no longer deemed to be a security threat by the British authorities.

The paper also revealed that MI5 had passed no information on its four-week investigation into Akram over to the US authorities, despite its close working relationship with the FBI.

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It is understood he was not living in the US at the time of the attack, but had instead travelled there from the UK on 2 January 2022.

During a press conference about the incident, US President Joe Biden said it was believed Akram had got hold of guns “on the street” and had “purchased them when he landed”.

While there were reports of the British man having a bomb during the siege, Mr Biden said there were “no bombs that we know of”.

 Malik Faisal Akram was originally from Blackburn, Lancashire (image: Getty Images) Malik Faisal Akram was originally from Blackburn, Lancashire (image: Getty Images)
Malik Faisal Akram was originally from Blackburn, Lancashire (image: Getty Images) | Getty Images

Akram’s brother Gulbar told Sky News that he suffered from severe mental health illnesses.

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His family were involved in negotiations with Akram during the hostage situation.

His motive appeared to be to secure the release of Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui, who is being held in a prison close to Colleyville in Fort Worth, Texas.

Siddiqui is suspected of having ties to al Qaeda and was imprisoned after the attempted murder of US military personnel in Afghanistan in 2008.

She is more than 11 years into an 86-year prison sentence handed down to her by a court in Manhattan, New York.

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Aafia Siddiqui is in prison close to Colleyville, Texas, where the siege took place (image: AFP/Getty Images)Aafia Siddiqui is in prison close to Colleyville, Texas, where the siege took place (image: AFP/Getty Images)
Aafia Siddiqui is in prison close to Colleyville, Texas, where the siege took place (image: AFP/Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

Akram was heard demanding her release over the Facebook livestream and said he wished to speak with her.

It is believed that he had no formal connection with Siddiqui - although the authorities are investigating whether there was a link.

Here in the UK, two teenagers have been arrested in south Manchester by Greater Manchester Police as part of the investigation into the siege.

The pair were being questioned about whether they knew of Akram’s intention to travel to the USA, before being released without charge on Tuesday (18 January).

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Meanwhile, Greater Manchester Police has also searched a property in the north of the city.

What has been the reaction?

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

In the statement, they wrote: “We would like to sincerely apologise wholeheartedly to all the victims involved in the unfortunate incident.”

Meanwhile, the Muslim Council of Britain expressed its “solidarity” with the Jewish community and stated that Akram’s actions “fall way short of what is expected of a Muslim”.

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“The act is all the more reprehensible since it was instigated at a place of worship where Jews were targeted,” said the organisation’s secretary general Zara Mohammed.

“This was, quite simply, a hate crime and an act of antisemitism.

“Though some may seek to exploit such incidents for divisive ends, we must double our resolve to remain united against such hatred.”

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