A Briton who flew to the United States, acquired a gun and took hostages at a Texas synagogue had a criminal record and a long history of mental health issues, according to the Guardian.
Malik Faisal Akram, a 44-year-old man from Blackburn, was killed Saturday night after a tense 11 a.m. hostage situation at the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in the Dallas suburb of Colleyville. All four hostages survived the siege and were unhurt.
President Joe Biden said on Sunday the incident was an act of terrorism and UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the UK government condemned “this act of terrorism and anti-Semitism”.
In a statement to Sky News, Akram’s brother Gulbar asked how he was able to obtain a visa to enter the United States. “He is known to the police. I have a criminal record. How was he allowed to obtain a visa and acquire a firearm? he said.
Asked by reporters on Sunday how Akram might have gotten the guns from the United States, Biden said, “the claim was that he got the guns off the street. He bought them when he landed.
The Guardian understands Akram had a UK criminal record, but no known terrorism convictions. Investigators in the UK believe Akram had no connection to Texas and traveled there earlier this month. Officers from MI5, Britain’s security service, were reviewing their records on Monday to see if he had ever been known to them.
Akram had been the subject of an exclusion order in 2001 barring him from Blackburn Magistrates Court after he made remarks about the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, saying he wished he had a bailiff be in planes being transported to buildings to commit mass murder. .
During the synagogue siege, Akram could be heard demanding the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist suspected of having ties to al-Qaeda, who was convicted in 2010 of attempting to kill US military officers then. that she was being held in Afghanistan. Siddiqui is in federal prison in Texas serving an 86-year sentence.
As the siege unfolded, the FBI asked British police to get Akram’s family to try to convince him to turn himself in. They spoke to Akram while he was holding hostages, but could not convince him to surrender.
British detectives have continued to question two teenagers arrested in Manchester who are both believed to be men. They are interrogated to see if they knew anything about Akram’s intentions to travel to the United States to stage the attack.
A community source in Blackburn said Akram has been known to behave in unusual ways, including in and around mosques in the Lancashire town.
Malik Faisal Akram was known as Faisal to those who knew him in Blackburn, Lancashire. A neighbor of the former family home described him as “a little fiery”, but otherwise a generally unremarkable man who at one point had tried to start a real estate business. “I never thought at all in my wildest dreams that this was going to happen one day.”
A taxi driver, who had known Akram since childhood, said he had recently lost his business and his home. “He went through some bad issues, he must have lost a lot. But his mental health issues were real, we’ve known him our whole lives.
MP Kate Hollern said Akram’s actions were “not a reflection of Blackburn or any religious community”. Local council leader Mohammed Khan said Blackburn and Darwen would be involved in the investigation. “At Blackburn, we strongly believe that no community should live in fear for their safety while practicing their religious beliefs or identity. We stand together in condemning this act of hatred, violence and terror. »
The Lancashire Council of Mosques also condemned the Texas hostage situation and urged its members to avoid speculation and share unverified information.
The standoff began during a Saturday morning service at the Reform synagogue in the affluent town of around 26,000. The service was streaming live on Facebook when a man with a British accent could be heard shouting off camera. The feed was finally cut a few hours later and the police were called around 10:41 a.m.
A male hostage, believed to be the synagogue’s rabbi, was freed around 5 p.m. as negotiations continued throughout the day. Armed FBI agents stormed the building and rescued the three remaining hostages around 9 p.m., authorities said. Details of how Akram died have not been released.