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‘An act of terror’: Biden condemns Texas synagogue siege while FBI names Briton as hostage-taker | Texas

US president Joe Biden has condemned a tense 11-hour hostage standoff at a synagogue in Texas on Saturday as “an act of terror”, as the FBI named the armed assailant as Malik Faisal Akram, a 44-year-old British nationwide.

Akram was pronounced lifeless after the FBI stormed the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue within the Dallas suburb of Colleyville on Saturday night. All 4 hostages survived the siege and have been unhurt, in line with native police.

UK safety sources confirmed to the Guardian that the suspect had been a resident of Blackburn in Lancashire.

The standoff started throughout a Saturday morning service on the Reform synagogue within the prosperous metropolis of round 26,000 residents. The service was being dwell streamed on Fb when a person with a British accent could possibly be heard shouting off digicam. The feed was ultimately lower hours later and police have been referred to as at round 10.41am.

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One male hostage, believed to be the synagogue’s rabbi, was launched at round 5pm as negotiations continued all through the day. Armed FBI officers stormed the constructing and rescued the three remaining hostages at round 9pm, authorities stated. Particulars of the style of Akram’s dying haven’t been launched.

Counter terrorism police in London confirmed they have been liaising with their US counterparts on Sunday as the FBI confirmed an energetic investigation however added they believed Akram had acted alone.

Talking to reporters on Sunday, president Biden described the incident as “an act of terror” and confirmed he had been briefed by the US lawyer common, Merrick Garland.

President Joe Biden speaks concerning the rescue of hostages taken at a Texas synagogue, earlier than boxing meals at a starvation reduction group in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on Sunday. {Photograph}: Joshua Roberts/Reuters

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Requested by reporters how Akram might have procured weapons within the US, Biden stated he didn’t have all of the info of the case however “the assertion was he bought the weapons on the road. He bought them when he landed.”

It was not instantly clear how lengthy Akram had been within the US earlier than finishing up the assault. The US Division of Homeland Safety didn’t instantly reply to questions on when Akram entered the nation, and on what visa.

The president stated he had contacted the synagogue’s rabbi, Charlie Cytron-Walker, who posted an account of the incident to Facebook on Sunday. “I’m grateful that we made it out,” Cytron-Walker wrote. “I’m grateful to be alive.”

In a press release issued earlier, Biden, praised the “brave work” of legislation enforcement officers who responded to the scene and despatched “love and power” to the synagogue’s worshippers and to members of the Jewish group.

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FBI particular agent in cost, Matt DeSarno, stated the hostage taker was particularly targeted on a difficulty in a roundabout way related to the Jewish group, and there was no fast indication that the person was half of any broader plan. However DeSarno stated the company’s investigation “may have world attain”.

Through the dwell stream, Akram could possibly be heard demanding the discharge of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist suspected of having ties to al-Qaida, who was convicted in 2010 of attempting to kill US navy officers while in custody in Afghanistan. Siddiqui is in federal jail in Texas serving an 86-year sentence.

The hostage-taker referred to Siddiqui as his “sister” on the livestream, however John Floyd, board chair for the Houston chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations – the nation’s largest Muslim advocacy group – confirmed Siddiqui’s brother, Mohammad Siddiqui, was not concerned.

On Sunday the British international secretary, Liz Truss, condemned the incident in a press release posted on Twitter. “My ideas are with the Jewish group and all these affected by the appalling act in Texas. We condemn this act of terrorism and antisemitism,” Truss stated. She added: “We stand with US in defending the rights and freedoms of our residents in opposition to those that unfold hate.”

Shortly after Akram was named as the hostage taker, a publish on the Blackburn Muslim Community Facebook page was uploaded, purportedly written by his brother Gulbar.

The publish acknowledged that Akram “was affected by psychological well being points” however the household have been “assured that he wouldn’t hurt the hostages”. It acknowledged that members of the family had been sat in an incident room all night time liaising with Akram, the FBI and hostage negotiators.

The publish claimed that Akram launched all of the remaining three hostages earlier than “a firefight has taken place and he was shot and killed”.

“There was nothing we might have stated to him or completed that may have satisfied him to give up,” the publish states.

It provides: “We might additionally like so as to add that any assault on any human being be it a Jew, Christian or Muslim and so forth is flawed and may at all times be condemned.”

The Guardian has not confirmed the veracity of the publish, however a written assertion with the identical phrases was reported by Sky News.

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