Texas synagogue hostage-taker ‘suffered from mental health issues’

Malik Faisal Akram

The brother of a man who took four people hostage and was shot dead at a Texas synagogue has said he suffered from mental health issues and released the hostages unharmed.

The FBI has identified the man as 44-year-old Malik Faisal Akram from Blackburn.

Yesterday Akram’s brother, Gulbar Akram, said that his brother suffered from “mental health issues” and was confident that he “would not harm hostages.”

Akram interrupted a morning service at Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville in Dallas, Texas. After taking four people hostage he was shot dead after a 10-hour standoff with police. All the hostages, including the congregation’s rabbi, Charlie Cytron-Walker, were left unharmed by Akram.

He apparently demanded the release of Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui who is being held in a high-security prison in Texas.

Gulbar Akram’s statement read: “We are absolutely devastated as a family. We can’t say much now as there is an ongoing FBI investigation…

“We would like to say that we as a family do not condone any of his actions and would like to sincerely apologize wholeheartedly to all the victims involved in the unfortunate incident.

“Sitting in the incident room all last night at Greenbank until the early hours liaising with Faisal, the negotiators, FBI etc. And although my brother was suffering from mental health issues we were confident that he would not harm the hostages.

“At around 3am the first person was released, then an hour later he released the other 3 people through the fire door unharmed. Don’t believe the bullsh** in the media they were released from the fire exit and Not rescued.

“A few minutes later a firefight has taken place and he was shot and killed. ILWIAR. There was nothing we could have said to him or done that would have convinced him to surrender.

“The FBI is due to fly into the UK later today so we don’t have much else to share at the moment. Obviously, our priority will be to get him back to the UK for his funeral prayers although we have been warned it could take weeks.

“We would also like to add that any attack on any human being be it a Jew, Christian or Muslim etc. is wrong and should always be condemned. It is absolutely inexcusable for a Muslim to attack a Jew or for any Jew to attack a Muslim, Christian, Hindu vice versa etc etc

“Finally to all the people that have been bombarding us with nonstop calls and texts please for the love of Allah STOP, please STOP, show some restraint and respect at such a difficult time for our family especially after losing our younger sibling barely 3 months ago.

“Please if you can grant us some privacy as we are grieving privately in our homes. Please keep our family present and deceased in your prayers.”

Meanwhile, Greater Manchester Police have arrested two teenagers in connection with the incident.

Assistant Chief Constable Dominic Scally for Counter Terror Policing North West said: “We can confirm that the suspect, who is deceased, is 44-year-old Malik Faisal Akram, originally from the Blackburn area of Lancashire…

“I can also confirm that Counter Terror Policing North West is assisting with the investigation being led by the U.S. authorities.

“Police forces in the region will continue to liaise with their local communities, including the Jewish community, and will put in place any necessary measures to provide reassurance to them.”

Rabbi Charlie Cytron Walker released a statement through a spokesperson on Sunday. He said: Over the years, my congregation and I have participated in multiple security courses from the Colleyville Police Department, the FBI, the Anti-Defamation League, and Secure Community Network. We are alive today because of that education. I encourage all Jewish congregations, religious groups, schools, and others to participate in active shooter and security courses….

“There is no question that this was a traumatic experience. We appreciate all the love, prayers and support from our local community and throughout the world. We are grateful for the outcome. We are resilient and we will recover.”

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