UK Police Arrest 2 Men Over Texas Synagogue Hostage Incident

By Alexander Zhang
Alexander Zhang
Alexander Zhang
January 26, 2022Updated: January 26, 2022

Two men have been arrested in the English city of Manchester as part of the investigation into the hostage-taking incident at a Texas synagogue involving British national Malik Faisal Akram, British police said on Wednesday.

Akram, 44, originally from Blackburn in Lancashire, was shot dead when FBI officers rushed into Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, on Jan. 15, following a 10-hour stand-off.

Announcing the latest development, Greater Manchester Police said that two men were arrested in Manchester on Wednesday morning and remain in custody for questioning.

Epoch Times Photo
Malik Faisal Akram at a homeless shelter in Dallas, Texas, on Jan. 2, 2022. (OurCalling, LLC via AP)

The force said that officers from Counter Terrorism Policing North West are “working closely with and are supporting U.S. law enforcement.”

Two men arrested in Birmingham and Manchester on Jan. 20 as part of the same probe have been released with no further action.

FBI officials said on Jan. 16 that they were investigating the incident as a “terrorism-related matter” and that Akram had demanded the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a neuroscientist who is serving an 86-year prison sentence after being convicted for attempting to murder and assault Americans in Afghanistan.

In a press conference held in Texas last Friday, the FBI said Akram was not known and had no prior contact with U.S. intelligence services.

The bureau said it is conducting “rigorous” analysis of Akram’s associates, his online presence, and his devices.

Akram was on the watchlist of MI5, the UK’s security service, according to reports from UK media outlets. He was reportedly probed by MI5 as a possible terrorist threat in 2020, but the investigation was closed after officials determined he wasn’t a threat.

It’s not yet clear how Akram, who had a criminal record in the UK, was able to travel to the United States around the time of the New Year. U.S. officials believe Akram had a visa, arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, and bought the handgun used in the incident.

Gulbar Akram, Malik Akram’s younger brother, told media outlets that he believes his sibling never should have been allowed to get a visa, citing the man’s mental health issues that he said were widely known.

An audio recording obtained by the London-based Jewish Chronicle newspaper appears to show a tense final conversation between Akram and his brother.

Akram made the call to his family in Blackburn as the siege was going on, and he can be heard giving an anti-Semitic rant and telling his brother he had “come to die.”

Gulbar tried repeatedly to persuade his brother to surrender, but Akram insisted he wanted to “go down as a martyr.”

Zachary Stieber and PA Media contributed to this report.