'Very Disturbing': GOP Senator Slams FBI for Clearing Texas Synagogue Hostage-Taker of Anti-Semitism
07:15 GMT 17.01.2022 (Updated: 18:02 GMT 08.12.2022)
The FBI has identified the hostage-taker as Malik Faisal Akram, a 44-year-old British citizen. It says that Akram was “singularly focused on one issue”, which was to secure the release of Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui, currently serving a term at a Texan prison on charges of attempting to murder US military personnel in Afghanistan.
Republican Party Senator Lindsey Graham has described it as "very disturbing" that the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) believes the Colleyville synagogue’s hostage-taker's demands had nothing to do with the Jewish faith.
I hope the FBI will reconsider the statement because it is well known that at her trial Siddiqui, also known as “Lady al-Qaeda,” was a raging anti-Semite who demanded that jurors be genetically tested for Jewish blood.— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) January 16, 2022
“This statement by the FBI seems ill-conceived and ill-timed. I look forward to further explanation from the FBI,” Graham, one of the leading conservative voices in the US senate, further demanded.
Pakistani scientist Dr. Aafia Siddiqui was convicted in 2010 by a Manhattan Federal Court for trying to kill US servicemen in Afghanistan. She was arrested by Afghan police in 2008 on charges of trying to make bombs.
Several accounts reported in the media have pointed towards her anti-Semitic leanings. As noted in a 2012 book titled "Wanted Women: Faith, Lies, and the War on Terror: The Lives of Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Aafia Siddiqui", Siddiqui had written a letter to the then US President Barack Obama and ranted against the Jewish community.
The hostage crisis at the Texan synagogue has prompted an outpouring of sympathy for the Jewish community from the US leadership as well as foreign leaders, with Vice-President Kamala Harris expressing her support for the Jewish community.
16 January 2022, 17:04 GMT
President Joe Biden has described the situation as an “act of terror”.
We stand in solidarity with Congregation Beth Israel and the entire Jewish community in striving for a day when attending a synagogue need not be an act of courage. Working with the international community, we will continue to lead the fight against antisemitism.— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) January 16, 2022
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke to Rabbi Cytron-Walker, one of the hostages, after the incident to express his government’s support for the Jewish community in Colleyville and across the US.
Siddiqui Denies Links With the Hostage-Taker
Graham’s critical remarks come against the backdrop of the FBI Special Agent in Charge Matthew DeSarno revealing the identity of the Congregation Beth Israel hostage-taker, after an elite SWAT commando team stormed the site on Saturday and rescued three people taken hostage by Malik Faisal Akram.
One of the four hostages at the synagogue had been released before the FBI raid.
For immediate release from @FBIDallas regarding the #Colleyville incident. pic.twitter.com/Bybpmao5JH— Colleyville Police (@ColleyvillePD) January 16, 2022
DeSarno revealed that Akram had died, refusing to go into further details about his death. He also said that the FBI’s Evidence Response Team would continue to “process evidence” at the synagogue in a bid to find more about the whole affair.
The hostage situation was being live-streamed on a Facebook channel before the feed was terminated by the social networking site.
During an almost 12-hour hostage situation, which began on Saturday morning, Akram reportedly demanded the release of Siddiqui and called himself her brother.
However, Siddiqui denied being related to the hostage taker.
In a statement to the American publication Daily Beast, Siddiqui’s attorney Marwa Elbially said that Akram’s “actions are wicked and directly undermine those of us who are seeking justice” for the Pakistani scientist.
In a statement on the Texas hostage situation, the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) has also stated that Siddiqui had nothing to do with Akram.