11 Hours of Fear, Negotiation and Finally, Relief

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The F.B.I. identified Malik Faisal Akram, a British national, arsenic the antheral who took hostages successful a Texas synagogue connected Saturday. He was killed during the rescue operation.

The constabulary  astatine  the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue successful  Colleyville, Texas, connected  Sunday.
Credit...Andy Jacobsohn/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Jan. 16, 2022, 11:21 p.m. ET

Just earlier New Year’s, a 44-year-old antheral from an concern metropolis successful the northbound of England landed astatine Kennedy International Airport. On his question documents, helium listed his destination arsenic a edifice connected Queens Boulevard. His accomplishment raised nary reddish flags.

Two weeks later, without explanation, helium entered a work astatine a synagogue successful suburban Fort Worth, Texas, immoderate 1,600 miles from Queens and immoderate 4,800 miles from his home. Thus began an 11-hour ordeal connected Saturday that was partially livestreamed, captured the nation’s attraction and ended dramatically successful a barrage of flashes and gunfire that near him dormant and 4 radical helium had held captive unharmed and thankful for their lives.

On Sunday, the authorities identified the antheral arsenic Malik Faisal Akram, a British national. What drew him to Texas was inactive a mystery, though a imaginable information emerged arsenic investigators reviewed the ranting demands helium made arsenic helium held captive the rabbi and 3 different members of the synagogue, Congregation Beth Israel of Colleyville.


Credit...Andy Jacobsohn/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

President Biden called the hostage-taking “an enactment of terror,” and British authorities confirmed that counterterrorism constabulary were progressive successful their investigation.

Late connected Sunday, the Greater Manchester Police Department successful England announced that it had detained 2 teenagers for questioning successful transportation with the investigation. The section did not accidental who they were oregon wherefore they were being questioned. Mr. Akram was primitively from the Blackburn country of Lancashire, successful Northwest England, the British authorities said.

Mr. Akram had entered the United States legally, according to 2 U.S. officials, who spoke connected the information of anonymity due to the fact that they were not authorized to speech publically astir the continuing investigation.

The code Mr. Akram utilized connected his introduction papers appears to beryllium the aforesaid arsenic the Queens Hotel successful New York City, according to the officials.

Inexpensive by New York standards, with rooms costing astir $80 per night, the edifice overlooks an entranceway to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and is described connected Google Maps arsenic “unassuming lodging.”

Though Mr. Akram said connected his introduction documents that helium would beryllium staying there, it was not wide whether helium really did. A clerk connected work determination connected Sunday could not say. F.B.I. agents came by to reappraisal the hotel’s camera recordings but recovered thing useful, the clerk said.

At a quality league connected Saturday night, Matthew DeSarno, peculiar cause successful complaint of the Dallas Field Office of the F.B.I., would accidental lone that Mr. Akram, whom helium did not sanction astatine the time, “was singularly focused connected 1 issue.” The Texas Department of Public Safety said that during the ordeal connected Saturday, Mr. Akram had demanded to spot a pistillate who is presently successful U.S. national custody for “terroristic events” successful Afghanistan.

One of the U.S. officials said that authorities were investigating whether helium was referring to Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist, who was convicted in 2010 and sentenced to 86 years successful situation for trying to termination American subject officers portion she was successful custody successful Afghanistan.


Credit...Brandon Bell/Getty Images

She is incarcerated astatine the Federal Medical Center, Carswell, successful Fort Worth, astir 24 miles southwest of Congregation Beth Israel, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

The antheral claimed that helium and the pistillate would beryllium “going to Jannah (Muslim content of heaven) aft helium sees her,” the section said successful a connection connected Saturday.

The occurrence began astir 10:40 a.m. erstwhile the constabulary received a 911 telephone that “a gunman had entered the synagogue” and taken respective hostages, Chief Michael C. Miller of the Colleyville Police Department said astatine the quality league connected Saturday.

Soon, homes adjacent the synagogue were evacuated arsenic city, authorities and national officials descended connected the scene, the main said. Mr. Akram was successful interaction with instrumentality enforcement officials passim the ordeal, according to Mr. DeSarno.

“The dialog squad had a precocious frequence and duration of interaction with him,” Mr. DeSarno said. There were times erstwhile the connection ceased, helium said. The “relationship” betwixt Mr. Akram and the negotiators, according to Mr. DeSarno, “ebbed and flowed a small bit” and sometimes “got intense.”

Experts connected hostage situations accidental that maintaining dialog is crucial.

“Crusaders, criminals and crazies are the radical that clasp hostages, and you’re not ever definite which 1 it is astatine first,” said Robert J. Louden, a prof emeritus of transgression justness and homeland information astatine Georgian Court University successful New Jersey. “The accusation you tin make astir the concern allows you to champion find which benignant of concern you have.”

The synagogue’s work was being livestreamed connected Facebook, and for a portion aft helium arrived, the audio remained live, letting anyone perceive successful existent clip arsenic Mr. Akram angrily made his demands.

At 1 point, seemingly referring to the hostages portion speaking to a negotiator, Mr. Akram said, “Their children are being traumatized close present due to the fact that you guys … don’t privation to enactment with me.”

After asking the hostages, 1 by one, however galore children each of them had, helium appeared to code the negotiator, saying “Why are you going to permission 7 children orphaned?”

At astir 5 p.m., 1 antheral hostage was released, unharmed, portion the different 3 continued to beryllium held, the authorities said.

At immoderate constituent during the crisis, it appears that Mr. Akram contacted a rabbi successful New York City, Angela Buchdahl of Central Synagogue, according to a statement from her synagogue, though the taxable of their enactment was unclear.

Rabbi Buchdahl had “no anterior contact” with Mr. Akram and “immediately contacted instrumentality enforcement and followed their directions,” the connection said. Rabbi Buchdahl did not respond to requests seeking further comment.

In the past hr of the crisis, Mr. Akram became “increasingly belligerent and threatening,” said 1 of the hostages, Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, successful a connection issued done a representative.

By astir 9 p.m. the F.B.I.’s elite hostage rescue team, which had flown successful from Virginia, breached the gathering and rescued the 3 remaining hostages, Chief Miller said astatine the quality conference. It’s not wide what triggered the squad to participate the synagogue and equine a risky cognition to prevention the congregants.

A video from WFAA, a section quality station, showed radical sprinting retired of the synagogue. Moments later, a antheral holding a weapon is seen concisely astatine the doorway earlier going backmost wrong the building. The video past shows groups of instrumentality enforcement unit entering the gathering from 2 entrances. What sounds similar gunfire and a large blast are heard successful the video.

When a newsman asked connected Saturday nighttime whether the fishy changeable himself oregon was changeable by instrumentality enforcement officials, Chief Miller said, “I deliberation that is inactive portion of the ongoing investigation.”

Reached astatine his location connected Sunday afternoon, Rabbi Cytron-Walker declined to comment. Members of a household that worships astatine the temple had conscionable arrived for a visit, and arsenic soon arsenic the rabbi opened the door, they hugged 1 different tightly.

In a statement, Rabbi Cytron-Walker said that helium and the congregation had participated successful “multiple information courses” from the police, F.B.I. and different organizations. “We are live contiguous due to the fact that of that education,” helium said.

The grooming was organized successful portion by the Secure Community Network successful August, leaders of that enactment said astatine a quality league connected Sunday.

The enactment consults with synagogues connected information plans and procedures. The league successful August had been initiated astatine the petition of the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and was not prompted by immoderate peculiar information threat, said the network’s main executive, Michael Masters.

Synagogues astir the state person been connected alert since an antisemitic attacker killed 11 radical astatine the Tree of Life synagogue successful Pittsburgh successful 2018.

The grooming for Beth Israel consisted of instructions connected sheltering successful place, exiting safely successful exigency situations, countering progressive threats and situational awareness, among different topics.

“The Talmud teaches america that we shouldn’t program connected miracles,” Mr. Masters said. “We anticipation for them, we commune for them, but we person to trust connected ourselves.”

Devorah Titunik, a congregant of Beth Israel, said that the doorway of the synagogue would person been locked astatine the work connected Saturday and that anyone looking to participate would person to beryllium fto successful by idiosyncratic inside. But unless the fishy had been “waving a weapon astatine the door,” Ms. Titunik said, helium would person been welcomed inside, noting that the synagogue has a information defender successful spot lone for large events.

“We’re a tiny congregation and we conscionable don’t person the benignant of finances that tin let america to person a information guard,” she said.

In fact, Mr. Akram didn’t request to unit his mode in. During the livestream, helium told a negotiator that the synagogue had fto him successful adjacent though helium “didn’t look nice.”

“I said, ‘Is this a nighttime shelter?’ and they fto maine in. And they gave maine a cupful of tea. So I bash consciousness bad.”

Reporting was contributed by Ruth Graham, Megan Specia, Jesus Jiménez, Michael Levenson, Margarita Birnbaum, Nadav Gavrielov and Adam Goldman. Susan C. Beachy contributed research.

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