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Questions Abound as Texas Synagogue Standoff Labeled Act of Terrorism

'They police described the suspects as teenagers who were in custody for questioning...'

(Headline USA) Police in England said Sunday they had arrested two teenagers in their investigation into an armed British national holding four people hostage during a 10-hour standoff at a Texas synagogue.

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.

Questions remained unanswered as to how Akram was able to enter into the country, whether he had a previous record of radicalism, how he gained access to weapons and whether his hostage taking was part of a larger conspiracy.

America’s open southern borders and the admission of thousands of unvetted Afghan nationals following President Joe Biden’s disastrous pull our in the country have led to an increased security risk domestically, even while the nation’s intelligence community focuses its attack on citizens with whom it disagrees politically.

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British investigators, however, had begun to unravel what appeared to be a deeper plot.

The Greater Manchester Police did not name the suspects or whether they faced any charges. They described them as teenagers who were in custody for questioning.

Four people held hostage at a Texas synagogue said 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.

Rabbi 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.

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“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.”

President Joe Biden called the episode an act of terror. Akram could be heard ranting on a Facebook 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.

Akram arrived in the U.S. recently on a tourist visa from Great Britain, according to a U.S. official.

London’s Metropolitan Police said in a statement that its counter-terrorism police were liaising with U.S. authorities about the incident.

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

The standoff led authorities to tighten security in other places, including New York City, where police said that they increased their presence “at key Jewish institutions” out of an abundance of caution.

Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press

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