Texas synagogue hostage-taker named by FBI, contacted New York rabbi

The gunman appealed to a New York rabbi to use her influence to try and release an al-Qaeda terrorist.

By Adina Katz, World Israel News

Malik Faisal Akram was named as the perpetrator of the hostage crisis at Congregation Beth Israel synagogue on Saturday in Colleyville, Texas, the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced the next day.

Akram, a 44-year-old British citizen, was killed by the FBI Hostage Rescue Team when they stormed the building. His name was released by Special Agent in Charge of Dallas FBI Matthew DeSarno after the UK government confirmed he was a British national.

British officials are “aware of the death of a British man in Texas and are in contact with the local authorities,” a spokesperson for the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office told British media outlet Sky News.

The gunman was from Blackburn, a city north of Manchester. He was the son of Mohammed Malik Akram and had four brothers, including one who passed away in October, according to a statement published by the Blackburn Muslim Community.

Akram was suffering from mental health issues, according to a Facebook statement posted by his brother Gulbar.

“We are absolutely devastated as a family,” Gulbar said. “We can’t say much now as their is an ongoing FBI investigation. We would like to say that we as a family do not condone any of his actions and would like to sincerely apologize wholeheartedly to all the victims involved in the unfortunate incident.”

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Gulbar said that Akram released the hostages, and that they were not rescued by the police.

“Don’t believe the bull#### in the media they were released from the fire exit and Not rescued,” he wrote.

However,  authorities said that only one was freed six hours into the hostage situation before an FBI SWAT team entered the synagogue, shot and killed Akram and rescued the remaining three hostages unharmed.

Gulbar added that his family “would also like to add that any attack on any human being be it a Jew, Christian or Muslim etc is wrong and should always be condemned. It is absolutely inexcusable for a Muslim to attack a Jew or for any Jew to attack a Muslim, Christian, Hindu vice versa etc etc.”

Akram was reportedly trying to seek the release of al-Qaeda terrorist Aafia Siddiqui, who is serving an 86-year sentence in Texas after being charged with attempted murder and armed assault on U.S. officers in Afghanistan, law officials told CNN.

Witnesses claim Akram referred to Siddiqui as his sister, but John Floyd, of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Siddiqui’s brother was not involved.

It was revealed that Akram called a New York rabbi to try and use her influence to release Siddiqui.

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Angela Buchdahl, senior rabbi at Central Synagogue in Manhattan, was contacted twice by Akram, according to the Jewish Telegraph Agency.

“I can confirm that the gunman reached out to me twice yesterday by phone,” Buchdahl wrote in an email. “We are about to share a note with the congregation just confirming that. Other than that for security reasons I cannot share more.”

The New York rabbi has been contacted by law enforcement officials as part of the ongoing investigation, CNN reported.