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Crime Timeline sheds light on what synagogue standoff suspect did in US

04:21  18 january  2022
04:21  18 january  2022 Source:   abcnews.go.com

Texas Synagogue Hostages Taken by Gunman During Livestream Service

  Texas Synagogue Hostages Taken by Gunman During Livestream Service The man allegedly went on several profanity-laced rants while holding the victims hostage.The hostage situation at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville began during the synagogue's live-streamed Shabbat service, according to Reuters. No injuries have been reported inside the building.

The British national who allegedly took a rabbi and three other people as hostages inside a Texas synagogue on Saturday arrived in the United States last month and gave customs agents a hotel in New York as his local address, multiple law enforcement sources told ABC News on Monday.

The suspect, Malik Faisal Akram, 44, reportedly took a flight from London to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on Dec. 29 and listed a hotel in Queens, New York, as his local address on a customs form, the sources said.

MORE: Texas rabbi recounts hostage ordeal escape: ‘I threw a chair at the gunman’

The FBI is investigating whether Akram actually stayed at the hotel prior to traveling by air to the Dallas-Fort Worth area possibly on Dec. 31.

Hostages safe after Texas synagogue standoff; captor dead

  Hostages safe after Texas synagogue standoff; captor dead The man took over services at a Texas synagogue where he could be heard ranting on a livestream.One hostage held Saturday at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville was released during the standoff; three others got out about 9 p.m. when an FBI SWAT team entered the building, authorities said. The hostage taker was killed and FBI Special Agent in Charge Matt DeSarno said a team would investigate “the shooting incident.

Malik Faisal Akram © Obtained by ABC News Malik Faisal Akram

As investigators piece together Akram’s movements in the United States, they’ve determined he bought the handgun used in the hostage-taking on the street from someone he met at a local homeless shelter in Texas, according to the law enforcement sources. The last time the gun was legally sold through a federally licensed dealer was in September 2019, they said.

While in New York, Akram -- who was shot dead by an FBI hostage rescue team, ending a nearly 11-hour standoff with authorities in Texas -- also obtained a cellphone, which he apparently used up until his death, the sources told ABC News.

Suspect was not on any watch lists

Akram's name did not appear on any U.S. watch lists.

Investigators are now working to develop a complete timeline of his movements since his arrival in New York. According to the sources, Akram stayed at homeless shelters for about a week and may have portrayed himself as experiencing homelessness to gain access to the Texas synagogue during Shabbat services.

Support flows to 'changed' Texas synagogue after standoff

  Support flows to 'changed' Texas synagogue after standoff DALLAS (AP) — The tight-knit congregation at a Texas synagogue where four people were held hostage by an armed captor during a 10-hour standoff over the weekend traces its roots back to a gathering organized over 20 years ago by a handful of families who were new to the area. “It was a Jewish holiday and we were just feeling kind of isolated and unsure who else was living here that was Jewish,” Anna Salton Eisen, a founder and former president of Congregation Beth Israel, said Sunday.

As part of the investigation, authorities are looking into Akram’s mental health history and are working to determine whether any potential history should have come up during the vetting process for his travel to the United States.

Sources told ABC News that American and British authorities have made contact with Akram’s brother, who told them Akram has mental health issues.

Law enforcement personnel continue the investigation to the hostage incident at Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, on Jan. 16, 2022. © Ralph Lauer/EPA via Shutterstock Law enforcement personnel continue the investigation to the hostage incident at Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, on Jan. 16, 2022.

A friend of Akram's family, told the Associated Press on Monday that it was known in their community of Blackburn, England, that Akram had "mental health issues."

"He had mental health issues, which were not really diagnosed," the family friend, Asif Mahmud, told the AP.

Mahmud, a community organizer in Blackburn, also said that Akram had previously served a custodial sentence in England and questioned how he got past U.S. immigration checks.

Jewish communities across the US are on heightened alert after the Texas standoff: 'Is our community under attack again?'

  Jewish communities across the US are on heightened alert after the Texas standoff: 'Is our community under attack again?' Jewish communities across the United States once again find themselves on edge in the wake of another attack on worshippers at a synagogue, this time at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, where a man interrupted Saturday's Shabbat service and held four people hostage for hours. © Andy Jacobsohn/AFP/Getty Images SWAT team members deploy near the Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, some 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of Dallas, on January 15, 2022.

"Well, I do know he obviously served a custodial sentence, so it must have been serious enough for him to serve a custodial sentence. So, he was known to the authorities for that reason," Mahmud said without elaborating on what offense Akram had been sentenced for. "But for all intents and purposes, other than that, he lived what one would describe a normal kind of existence. He was part of the community."

Two teenagers have been arrested in England as part of an ongoing investigation into the hostage-taking incident, British authorities said. The pair were detained in southern Manchester on Sunday evening and "remain in custody for questioning," according to a statement from the Greater Manchester Police. Multiple law enforcement sources in the U.S. told ABC News that the teens are Akram's children.

Suspect called New York rabbi during standoff

At 10:45 a.m. CST on Saturday, police in Colleyville, Texas, received a 911 call reporting that an intruder, later identified as Akram, was aggressively confronting Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville.

Op-Ed: The Texas hostage-taking was a symptom of conspiracy theories run amok

  Op-Ed: The Texas hostage-taking was a symptom of conspiracy theories run amok Why would a British Muslim threaten four Texas Jews over the actions of a Pakistani in Afghanistan in 2008?We don’t know everything there is to know about the four people whom Malik Faisal Akram held hostage. But I am certain the 11-hour ordeal — which ended with the hostages safe and Akram dead — left them terrified.

Cytron-Walker said in an interview with CBS News on Monday that Akram knocked at the synagogue’s window and that he invited Akram in for a cup of tea prior to Shabbat services. The rabbi said that during the services, while his back was turned to Akram in prayer, the suspect pulled a gun.

MORE: Texas rabbi 'grateful to be alive' as synagogue hostage-taking suspect ID'd

After taking Cytron-Walker and three other members of the synagogue hostage, Akram was heard on a livestreamed video of the service saying he was holding four hostages, claiming to be armed with a gun and explosives, and stating that he was willing to die at the hands of police and that he was not acting on behalf of a foreign terrorist organization.

Facebook eventually interrupted the livestream, but law enforcement officials were able to access the synagogue’s closed-circuit TV system, allowing the FBI to continue to view the unfolding events in real-time, the sources said.

Just after 12 p.m., Akram instructed Cytron-Walker to call New York-based Rabbi Angela Buchdahl of the Central Synagogue in Manhattan. In a series of subsequent calls with Buchdahl, Akram reportedly threatened to kill the four hostages if convicted terrorist and al-Qaida supporter Aafia Siddiqui was not released from prison at Carswell Air Force Base near Fort Worth.

Synagogue attack puts Jewish community on edge

  Synagogue attack puts Jewish community on edge The Texas synagogue attack has put the Jewish community on high alert, highlighting safety and security trainings. The faith-based attacks have forced community leaders to prioritize security and safety precautions to maintain their ability to pray, congregate and practice their faith, Eric Fingerhut, the president and CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America, told ABC News.

"I can confirm that the gunman reached out to me twice (on Saturday) by phone," Buchdahl wrote in an email to the New York-based Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “We are about to share a note with the congregation just confirming that. Other than that for security reasons I cannot share more."

An armored law enforcement vehicle is seen in the area where a man has reportedly taken people hostage at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, Jan. 15, 2022. © Shelby Tauber/Reuters An armored law enforcement vehicle is seen in the area where a man has reportedly taken people hostage at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, Jan. 15, 2022.

Investigators are working to determine why Akram chose Buchdahl to speak to, sources told ABC News. Authorities suspect it was because she is the leader of a prominent synagogue in the city where Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist, was convicted in 2010 of assault and attempted murder of a U.S. soldier and members of a U.S. team sent to interrogate her in 2008. She was sentenced to 86 years in prison.

MORE: Standoff at Texas synagogue ends with all hostages safe, suspect dead

Siddiqui's attorney, Marwa Elbially, released a statement over the weekend saying Siddiqui did not know Akram and that she condemned his actions.

Elite FBI team flown in to help

As the hostage standoff was unfolding on Saturday, authorities reached out about 12:30 p.m. to the FBI's hostage rescue team at the bureau's headquarters in Quantico, Virginia. The team was immediately dispatched to Colleyville, officials said.

Around 5:30 p.m., Akram released one of the hostages unharmed.

About four hours later, the FBI hostage rescue team entered the synagogue after Cytron-Walker and the two other hostages escaped when they bolted for an exit door as the rabbi threw a chair at the suspect.

Akram was shot as the team entered the synagogue and later died from his wounds. A handgun, believed to belong to Akram, was recovered inside the synagogue, sources said.

ABC News' Luke Barr contributed to this report

Feds declare hostage standoff at Texas synagogue an act of terrorism, hate crime .
Federal officials on Friday declared the hostage standoff at a Texas synagogue an act of antisemitic terrorism. “Let me be clear,” Assistant to the President for Homeland Security Jill Sanborn said, “the FBI is and has been treating Saturday’s events as an act of terrorism targeting the Jewish community.” She made the remark during a White House call that sought to reassure unnerved Jewish Americans that law enforcement is dedicated to rooting out terroristic violence.

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