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U.S., British Officials In Contact After Texas Synagogue Hostage Crisis

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A law enforcement official stands patrol on a main road leading to Congregation Beth Israel synagogue where a man held hostages for hours on January 15.

British counterterrorism agents are coordinating with U.S. authorities after a hostage taker later identified as a U.K. citizen was shot dead following an hours-long standoff at a synagogue in Texas in what U.S. President Joe Biden called "an act of terror."

The man, named by the FBI as 44-year-old Malik Faisal Akram, was killed in a "shooting incident" after the FBI entered the building at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, near Dallas, on January 15.

All four hostages were unharmed during the incident, which lasted for about 10 hours.

Britain's Foreign Office confirmed the hostage taker was British and the Metropolitan Police said counterterrorism officers were in contact with U.S. authorities and colleagues from the FBI.

Biden, on a visit to Philadelphia, said on January 16 that the incident was "an act of terror."

People carry portraits of Aafia Siddiqui during a protest for her release in Hyderabad on March 24, 2021.
People carry portraits of Aafia Siddiqui during a protest for her release in Hyderabad on March 24, 2021.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss also condemned the "act of terrorism and anti-Semitism," while the British ambassador to the United States, Karen Pierce, said British authorities are providing "full support to Texas and U.S. law enforcement agencies."

"We stand with U.S. in defending the rights and freedoms of our citizens against those who spread hate," Truss said on Twitter.

Akram is said to have demanded the release of Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui, suspected of having ties to Al-Qaeda, who is in prison in Texas after being convicted of trying to kill U.S. Army officers in Afghanistan.

A brother of Akram issued a statement apologizing to those taken hostage and claiming Akram had been suffering from "mental health issues."

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who was among the four people held hostage, told the media on January 16 that the hostage taker had become “increasingly belligerent and threatening” toward the end of the standoff.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, CNN, The New York Times, and AP
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