Friday, May 20, 2022

Texas rabbi says he, 2 hostages survived synagogue standoff

The rabbi of a Texas synagogue where a gunman was taken hostage during live-streamed services said Monday that he threw a chair at his prisoner before fleeing with two others after an hour-long standoff , credited previous security training for getting himself and his circles out safely. ,

Rabbi Charlie Citron-Walker told “CBS Mornings” that he let the gunman inside a suburban Fort Worth synagogue on Saturday because he needed shelter. He said the man was not threatening or suspicious at first. Later, while he was praying, he heard the click of a gun.

Another person taken hostage is Jeffrey R. Cohen described the incident on Facebook on Monday.

“At first, we survived. We weren’t released or freed,” said Cohen, who was one of four people in the synagogue for services that many other Congregational Beth Israel members can see online. Were were

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Cohen said the men worked to keep the gunman busy. He talked to the gunman, he lectured him. At one point as the situation developed, Cohen said that the gunman told him to get down on his knees. Cohen got up in his chair and slowly nodded his head and said “no.” As the gunman proceeded to sit back, Cohen said Citron-Walker shouted to run.

“The exit wasn’t very far,” Citroen-Walker said. “I told them to leave. I threw a chair at the gunman, and I headed for the door. And the three of us were able to get out without even firing a shot.”

Authorities have identified the hostage taker as 44-year-old British national Malik Faisal Akram, who was killed after three previous hostages fled from the synagogue in Collyville on Saturday night around 9 p.m. The first mortgage was released shortly after 5 p.m.

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The FBI issued a statement Sunday night calling the test a “terrorism case targeting the Jewish community” and that the Joint Terrorism Task Force was investigating. The agency said that Akram repeatedly spoke during the conversation about a prisoner serving a sentence of 86 years in the US. not exclusively related to the Jewish community.”

Akram can be heard boasting on the services’ Facebook livestream and demanding the release of Afia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist with ties to al-Qaeda who was convicted of trying to kill US military officers in Afghanistan .

Citron-Walker told “CBS Mornings,” “In the last hour or so of the standoff, he wasn’t getting what he wanted. It didn’t look good. It didn’t look good. We were scared.” “

An FBI agent processes the scene in front of the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue on January 16, 2022 in Collieville, Texas, where a man held hostage for more than 10 hours on Saturday.

Video from the end of the standoff from Dallas TV station WFAA shows people running out of a synagogue door, and then a man holding a gun, opening and closing the same door seconds later. Moments later, several shots and then an explosion could be heard.

Officials declined to say who shot Akram and said it was being investigated.

The investigation spread to England, where police in Manchester announced late Sunday that two juveniles were in custody in connection with the standoff. Greater Manchester Police tweeted that counter-terrorism officers had made the arrests, but did not say whether the pair faced any charges.

President Joe Biden called the incident an act of terror. Speaking to reporters in Philadelphia on Sunday, Biden said Akram had allegedly bought a weapon on the streets.

Federal investigators believe Akram purchased the handgun used in the private sale to be used in hostage-taking, according to a person familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity as the investigation continues. A law enforcement official said Akram had arrived in the US at New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport about two weeks ago.

Akram traveled to the US on a tourist visa from Great Britain, according to a US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity as the information was not intended to be made public. London’s Metropolitan Police said in a statement that its counter-terrorism police were contacting US officials about the incident.

Britain’s Home Secretary Priti Patel told the House of Commons on Monday she had spoken to her US counterpart Alejandro Meyerkas and offered “full support” of the police and security services in Britain in the investigation.

According to the law enforcement official, Akram used his phone during the conversation to communicate with people other than law enforcement, who was not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation by name and on condition of anonymity. Had talked.

It was not clear why Akram chose the synagogue, although the prison where Siddiqui is serving is in Fort Worth.

A lawyer in Texas representing Siddiqui said on Monday that Siddiqui had nothing to do with Akram.

Attorney Marva Albiel said, “She said from the very beginning when she was sentenced that she did not want violence to be in her name and that she does not condone violence of any kind.”

Akram, who was called Faisal by his family, hailed from Blackburn, an industrial town in northwestern England. His family said he was suffering from “mental health issues.”

His brother Gulbar Akram wrote, “We would also like to add that any attack on any human being, whether he is a Jew, Christian or Muslim, etc. is wrong and should always be condemned.”

Community organizer Asif Mahmood, who has known the family for 30 years and visits the same mosque, said the family was devastated by what happened in Texas.

“He had mental health issues for many years,” Mahmood said. “The family obviously knew about it… but no one thought he’d potentially go and do something like this.”

Mohamed Khan, leader of the Local Government Council in Blackburn, said the community promotes peace among all religions.

“We are a city where people from different backgrounds, cultures and religions are welcomed and it is a place where people come together and support each other,” Khan said in a statement.

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This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

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