Texas Synagogue Attacker’s Family Says He Released Hostages Before Shootout

A police chaplain walks near the Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, on Jan. 15. (Andy Jacobsohn/AFP via Getty Images via JTA)

By Shira Hanau

The man who held four people hostage at a Colleyville, Texas, synagogue Saturday was a  British citizen whose family said he released the hostages before being killed in a shootout.

FBI’s office in Dallas on Sunday named the man as Malik Faisal Akram, 44.

Akram held the synagogue’s rabbi and three others hostage for hours on Saturday. He died at the scene, though it is unclear whether he was killed by the SWAT teams that raided the synagogue or if he died of a self-inflicted wound.

In a statement posted on the Facebook page of the Muslim community in Blackburn, in Britain’s northeast, his family said they “would like to sincerely apologize wholeheartedly to all the victims.” The sibling who posted the statement said he or she had been in touch with authorities throughout the hostage-taking.

“Although my brother was suffering from mental health issues we were confident that he would not harm the hostages,” said the statement, which was reposted on Twitter by Nicole Lampert, a British Jewish journalist. “At around 3 am the first person was released then an hour later he released the other 3 people through the fire door unharmed. Don’t believe the bull#### in the media they were released from the fire exit and Not rescued.”

“A few minutes later a firefight has taken place and he was shot and killed,” the sibling said, adding an acronym for an Arabic phrase that means “Verily we belong to God and verily to him do we return.” “There was nothing we could have said to him or done that would have convinced him to surrender.”

The first part of the ordeal was broadcast on Facebook, where the synagogue streams its Shabbat services. A Fort Worth area reporter posted quotes from the live stream, which was later taken down, in which Akram is heard yelling, “Don’t cry on the f**king phone with me. Don’t f**king cry on me. I have six beautiful kids … There are hostages in the synagogue who are going to die. … What are you crying for? I’m going to die, are you listening? I’m going to die doing this all right? Are you listening? I’m going to die. Don’t cry about me.”

On the Blackburn community’s Facebook page, the community and the family say that another brother, Gulzameer, died just months ago.

However, a lawyer for a brother of Siddiqui, Muhammad Siddiqui, said Siddiqui was not the man inside the synagogue. The lawyer, John Floyd, is the chairman of the Houston affiliate of CAIR, the Muslim legal advocacy group. CAIR and the Free Aafia movement, which contends that the charges against her are trumped up and that she has been tortured, condemned the hostage-taking Saturday.


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