U.S., British Authorities Continue Investigation Into Texas Standoff

COLLEYVILLE, Texas (AP) —
A general view of streets lined with terraced housing in Blackburn, Britain, Monday. (REUTERS/Phil Noble)

U.S. and British authorities Monday continued an investigation into the weekend standoff at a Texas Jewish center that ended with an armed British national dead and the community leader crediting past security training for getting himself and three members of his congregation out safely.

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

The investigation stretched to England, where late Sunday police in Manchester announced that two teenagers were in custody in connection with the standoff. Greater Manchester Police tweeted that counterterrorism officers had made the arrests but did not say whether the pair faced any charges.

Video of the standoff’s end from Dallas news channel WFAA showed people running out a door of the center, 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.

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

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.

President Joe Biden called the episode an act of terror. Speaking to reporters in Philadelphia on Sunday, Biden said Akram allegedly purchased a weapon on the streets.

Federal investigators believe Akram purchased the handgun used in the hostage-taking in a private sale, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing. Akram arrived in the U.S. at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York about two weeks ago, a law enforcement official said.

Akram arrived in the U.S. recently on a tourist visa from Great Britain, according to a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the information was not intended to be public. London’s Metropolitan Police said in a statement that its counterterrorism police were liaising with U.S. authorities about the incident.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Matt DeSarno had said Saturday night that the hostage-taker was specifically focused on an issue not directly connected to the Jewish community. It wasn’t clear why Akram chose the center, though the prison where Siddiqui is serving her sentence is in nearby Fort Worth.

On Sunday night, the FBI issued a statement calling the ordeal “a terrorism-related matter, in which the Jewish community was targeted.” The agency said the Joint Terrorism Task Force is investigating.

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