Captor Grew “Belligerent” Late in Standoff

COLLEYVILLE, Texas (AP) —
Police stand in front of the Congregation Beth Israel, Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022, in Colleyville, Texas. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

One of the four people held hostage at a Texas congregation said Sunday that their captor grew “increasingly belligerent and threatening” toward the end of the 10-hour standoff, which ended with an FBI SWAT team rushing into the building and the captor’s death.

Authorities identified the hostage-taker as a 44-year-old British national, Malik Faisal Akram, who was killed Saturday night after the last hostages ran out of Congregation Beth Israel around 9 p.m. The FBI said there was no indication that anyone else was involved, but it had not provided a possible motive as of Sunday afternoon.

Charlie Cytron-Walker credited security training that his suburban Fort Worth congregation has received over the years for getting him and the other three hostages through the ordeal, which he described as traumatic.

“In the last hour of our hostage crisis, the gunman became increasingly belligerent and threatening,” Cytron-Walker said in a statement. “Without the instruction we received, we would not have been prepared to act and flee when the situation presented itself.”

Akram could be heard ranting on a social media livestream of the services and demanding the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist suspected of having ties to al-Qaida who was convicted of trying to kill U.S. Army officers in Afghanistan.

Video from Dallas TV station WFAA showed people running out a door, and then a man holding a gun opening the same door just seconds later before he turned around and closed it. Moments later, several shots and then an explosion could be heard.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement did not immediately respond to questions Sunday about Akram’s immigration status and history. London’s Metropolitan Police said in a statement that its counter-terrorism police were liaising with U.S. authorities about the incident.

It wasn’t clear why Akram chose the congregation, though the prison where Saddiqui is serving her sentence is in Fort Worth. Michael Finfer, the president of the congregation, said in a statement “there was a one in a million chance that the gunman picked our congregation.”

Authorities have declined to say who shot Akram, saying it was still under investigation.

Colleyville, a community of about 26,000 people, is about 15 miles (23 kilometers) northeast of Fort Worth. By Sunday morning, the police perimeter around the congregation had shrunk to half a block in either direction and FBI agents could be seen going in and out of the building.

Reached outside his home Sunday, Cytron-Walker declined to speak at length about the episode. “It’s a little overwhelming as you can imagine. It was not fun yesterday,” he told the AP.

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