LONDON, United Kingdom — According to British officials, two adolescents were arrested in England as part of an ongoing investigation into Saturday’s hostage-taking incident at a synagogue in the United States.
According to a statement from Greater Manchester Police, the two were taken in southern Manchester on Sunday evening and “remain in custody for questioning.” The youngsters are the offspring of the alleged hostage-taker, according to multiple law enforcement sources in the United States.
The arrests came after a 10-hour confrontation between American authorities and a hostage-taker at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, roughly 27 miles northwest of Dallas. According to Colleyville Police Chief Michael Miller, an armed man claiming to have planted bombs in the synagogue disrupted Shabbat services on Saturday just before noon local time, holding a rabbi and three other individuals hostage.
At roughly 5 p.m. CT, one prisoner was released unharmed. Miller said at a press conference Saturday night that an elite hostage rescue team from the Federal Bureau of Investigation broke into the synagogue about 9 p.m. and rescued the remaining captives. According to Miller and FBI Dallas Special Agent in Charge Matt DeSarno, the suspect, 44-year-old British citizen Malik Faisal Akram, died in a “shooting incident.”
Multiple law enforcement sources say the early assessment is that Akram was shot and killed by an FBI team. The FBI’s Shooting Incident Review Team “will conduct a complete, factual, and objective examination of the occurrences,” according to a statement released on Sunday.
The incident’s cause is being investigated.
Greater Manchester Police Assistant Chief Constable Dominic Scally said in a statement on Sunday that counterterrorism officers are aiding their American counterparts in the investigation. According to Scally, Akram was from the Blackburn district of Lancashire, around 20 miles northwest of Manchester.
During conversations with law authorities, Akram “repeatedly mentioned a convicted terrorist serving an 86-year sentence in the United States on terrorism-related crimes,” the FBI said in a statement Sunday.
“This is a terrorism-related incident involving the Jewish community, and the Joint Terrorism Task Force is investigating,” the agency noted. “The FBI’s number one priority is to prevent acts of terrorism and violence. We are unable to share any information at this time due to the ongoing investigation.”
The suspect was seeking the release of Aafia Siddiqui, who is being held at Carswell Air Force Base near Fort Worth, roughly 16 miles southwest of Colleyville, according to multiple law enforcement sources. After being convicted of assault and attempted murder of an American soldier in 2010, Siddiqui, who has alleged ties to al-Qaida, was sentenced to 86 years in jail.
According to law enforcement officials, Akram landed in the United States on December 29 on a flight from London to New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. According to accounts, Akram slept at homeless shelters at various times and may have pretended to be homeless in order to get admission to the Texas synagogue for Shabbat services.
Attorney General Merrick Garland briefed President Joe Biden on the events at the Texas synagogue, Biden said Sunday. The suspect had just been in the nation for a few weeks, according to Biden, and had spent at least one night in a homeless shelter. When he entered the synagogue, the man was equipped with a gun that he allegedly bought on the street, but detectives found no proof that he was in possession of explosives, according to Biden.
“This was a terrorist act,” Biden stated.