Synagogue Hostage-Taker Arrived in US Weeks Before Attack, Stayed at Christian Shelter - Reports
© BRANDON BELL A law enforcement vehicle sits in front of the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue on January 16, 2022 in Colleyville, Texas.
© BRANDON BELL
44-year-old Pakistani-born Malik Faisal Akram from Lancashire, UK, on January 15 held four people hostage, including one rabbi, for ten hours in a synagogue near Dallas, US. All captives were released, but Akram was shot and killed during an anti-terrorist operation.
Akram landed in New York on January 2, reportedly flying from Manchester, UK. He was allowed to enter the country despite the criminal record he had, according to The Dallas Morning News.
The address he mentioned is one of a hotel in Queens, but it’s unknown whether he appeared there, as the administrator says that he doesn’t remember him and footage from surveillance cameras didn’t show Akram.
The terrorist traveled to Texas, apparently by a domestic flight, and is said to have stayed at two homeless shelters. One of them was OurCalling, where he stayed for one night on 2 January.
“It’s sad to us that sometimes predators will hide within the homeless community, but its just a reality that causes a danger and makes us always have to make sure our homeless friends are well protected,” Wayne Walker, the CEO and pastor at OurCalling, said.
The other shelter belongs to the Union Gospel Mission in Dallas, a Texan Christian charity. According to the organization’s CEO Bruce Butler, staff saw him “come and go” from 6 January, but Akram never talked about religion or his plans.
“We were a way station for him. He had a plan. He was very quiet,” Butler told CNN, adding he left for the final time on January 13.
The police are now trying to establish where the hostage-taker was during the 48 hours before the attack that took place on 15 January.
His brother Gulbar cooperated with the FBI and maintained contact with Malik Akram “all night” from an incident room at Greenbank Police Station in Blackburn, UK.
“And although my brother was suffering from mental health issues we were confident that he would not harm the hostages,” Gulbar said in a post on the Blackburn Muslim community Facebook page. “At around 3 am the first person was released, then an hour later he released the other 3 people through the fire door unharmed.”
According to him, “a few minutes later a firefight has taken place and he was shot and killed. There was nothing we could have said to him or done that would have convinced him to surrender.” Gulber noted that FBI agents are expected to arrive in the UK to speak to Akram’s family.
“We 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,” he concluded.
16 January 2022, 21:11 GMT
The hostage-taking took place on Saturday morning during a service that was broadcast live on the Internet due to the pandemic. After the attack, the broadcast stopped, but those who followed could hear the words of the attacker: “I am going to die today. Are you listening? I am going to die. Ok? So don’t cry over me. Ok, don’t cry over me.”
Akram demanded the release of convicted terrorist Aafia Siddiqui, also known as Lady Al Qaeda. She is currently at a Texan prison on charges of attempting to murder US military personnel in Afghanistan.