“It was intentional, it was symbolic and we’re not going to tolerate antisemitism in this country,” said FBI director Christopher Wray, after agent makes comments downplaying gunman’s antisemitic motivations.
By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News
The FBI changed its stance on the motivation for the Texas synagogue attack last week which saw a rabbi and several congregants held hostage by a Muslim gunman in an 11 hour standoff, with the security institution’s director calling the events antisemitic in nature.
The attack was “an act of terrorism targeting the Jewish community,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray during a web conference on Thursday, which was organized by Jewish advocacy group the Anti-Defamation League.
“It was intentional, it was symbolic and we’re not going to tolerate antisemitism in this country,” he added.
Wray’s remarks clarifying that the synagogue was specifically targeted because of the antisemitism of the attacker may sound obvious, but they come after an FBI special agent made statements suggesting the incident had nothing to do with Jew hatred.
During a press conference last Saturday night after the hostages escaped, field agent for Dallas Matthew DeSarno told media that the attack was random and that the gunman was focused on an issue “not specifically related to the Jewish community.”
DeSarno’s characterization of the events drew widespread backlash, as critics noted that the gunman, Malik Faisal Akram, specifically targeted a Jewish house of worship in an overwhelmingly non-Jewish town, rather than an office, restaurant, or church.
“He came to the Jews because he bought into these very dangerous stories that the Jews control the world and the Jews control the government and the banks and the media,” hostage Jeffrey Cohen said of the gunman in an MSNBC interview.
Cohen’s statement was supported by Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who told media on Thursday that Akram believed Jews were so powerful that by holding them hostage, he would likely get his demands fulfilled.
Akram told negotiators that he would free the hostages if the U.S. government released Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist convicted of terror charges, from federal prison.