UK police arrest two men over Texas synagogue hostage-taking

Arrests come as audio emerges of the attacker’s final call to his brother, which indicated he intended to die.

Police cars are seen parked in an aerial view of the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas.
Police cars were parked in front of the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue, a day after a gunman held four people hostage for more than 10 hours [Brandon Wade/AP Photo]

The British police say they have arrested two people in connection with a hostage-taking at a synagogue in Texas.

Counter Terrorism Police North West said one man was arrested on Thursday in Birmingham, central England, and another in the northern English city of Manchester. They are being held for questioning and have not yet been charged.

The force said it was continuing to support United States authorities with their investigation into Saturday’s hostage incident. Malik Faisal Akram, a 44-year-old British citizen, took four people hostage at a Texas synagogue in a 10-hour standoff that ended in his death. All four hostages were unharmed.

Police did not disclose details about the two people arrested on Thursday. British police do not release names and details of detainees until they are charged.

On Sunday, police arrested British teenagers in Manchester as part of the investigation. They were later released without charge.

In a telephone call between Akram and his brother Gulbar during the siege, the attacker said he intended to die in the incident. The audio of the 11-minute call was obtained by the Jewish Chronicle through a “security source”, the news outlet said. Gulbar was speaking from a police station in Blackburn.

Akram was from Blackburn, an industrial city in northwest England. His family said he had been “suffering from mental health issues”.

Malik Faisal Akram, dressed in a winter coat and hat, is seen at a Dallas homeless shelter.
Malik Faisal Akram spent time in Dallas area homeless shelters in the two weeks leading up to the hostage-taking at a synagogue in Texas [Photo credit: OurCalling, LLC via AP]

Akram entered the US on a tourist visa about two weeks earlier and spent time in Dallas area homeless shelters before the attack at Congregation Beth Israel, in the suburb of Colleyville.

The FBI has called the incident “a terrorism-related matter” targeting the Jewish community.

British media, including the Guardian and the BBC, have reported that Akram was investigated by the domestic intelligence service MI5 as a possible “terrorist threat” in 2020, but authorities concluded he posed no danger, and the investigation was closed.

The White House said on Tuesday that Akram had been checked against US law enforcement databases before entering the country but raised no red flags.

Source: AP