On Saturday night, after hours of a standoff between a British national holding four congregants of the Congregation Beth Israel hostage, police confirmed that the siege was over with the death of the alleged perpetrator, Malik Faisal Akram. Police have not confirmed who shot Akram, only that he was deceased.
The FBI released a statement on Sunday characterizing the hostage situation as a “terrorism-related matter.” The individual spoke several times throughout the hostage crisis regarding a convicted terrorist. The convicted terrorist turned out to be a Pakistani neuroscientist who was convicted of attempted to kill United States Army officials in Afghanistan. Aafia Siddiqui is housed at a prison in Fort Worth, which is about fifteen miles away from the site of the hostage incident.
The Joint Terrorism Task force of the FBI released a statement on Sunday in which they attributed the hostage crisis as being related to terrorism, and the statement went on to say that “the Jewish community was targeted.” The statement said that the incident is being investigated.
Part of that investigation led to arrests in England on Sunday. Late in the day, Manchester police arrested two teens in connection with the hostage crisis. However, other than the arrest, little is known about the involvement of the teens or any other motivation regarding the incident.
Americans are asking how Akram was able to receive a tourist visa to come into the U.S. According to The Guardian, Akram not only had a criminal history in England, but he has numerous incidents of mental health issues that were officially documented. When Akram got to the United States, he spent multiple nights in a homeless shelter, then somehow procured a gun. President Joe Biden shared that he understood that the gun was purchased “on the street.” This information has not been confirmed as of this writing, so where and how the weapon was procured is not definitive as of yet.
However, the Greater Manchester Police released a tweet that the two teens had been arrested but did not comment as to whether the two individuals had been charged with anything as of yet.
Akram held the four hostages for eleven hours. During the standoff between Akram and the police, the suspect released a Facebook live video in which he could be heard talking about the terrorist being held in prison (that later turned out to be Siddiqui, who has been nicknamed “Lady Al-quaeda.”)
The rabbi of the synagogue had welcomed Akram that morning as the congregation began its celebration of the Sabbath. Akram had been to the synagogue before, but he had been staying at a homeless shelter on at least three different occasions. The rabbi was leading prayers for the congregants who had come to the service, and he says he heard a “click” come from the stranger. This is when the hostage crisis began.
By 10:41 that morning, the police had been alerted to the situation. The rabbi was one of the hostages, and congregants who were watching the service via livestream witnessed the odd behavior of Akram, who at times ranted in various languages or screamed “hysterically.”
The hostages were repeatedly threatened during the ordeal, but none were injured. Quick thinking – and some previous training from law enforcement – allowed the hostages to create a diversion and run out of the building. It was then that law enforcement moved toward the building. Again, police have not said who shot Akram, citing the ongoing investigation.