Colleyville synagogue hostages latest – Rabbi says he's ‘grateful to be alive' as captives are freed and gunman killed

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Colleyville synagogue hostages latest – Rabbi says he’s ‘grateful to be alive’ as captives are freed and gunman killed

AUTHORITIES identified the hostage taker as 44-year-old Malik Faisal Akram, who is a British citizen, after all hostages were safely rescued from the Fort Worth, Texas synagogue Saturday night.

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Akram kept members of the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville captive for almost 12 hours after storming the temple and demanding to speak to convicted terrorist Aafia Siddiqui.

After the dramatic rescue, Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker said he is “grateful to be alive.”

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Rabbi Cytron-Walker was among the hostages, and took to Facebook to express his gratitude for law enforcement and first responders, and the thoughts and prayers.

“I am grateful that we made it out,” he wrote. “I am grateful to be alive.”

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Texas Governor Greg Abbott tweeted that all hostages were rescued on Saturday night, and are “alive and safe.”

Read our synagogue hostage siege live blog for the latest news and updates…

  • Jennifer Korn26 minutes ago

    Brother of hostage taker issues statement

    The brother of Faisal Akram shared a written statement with Sky News:

    “Salaam Family & Friends, it is with great great sadness I will confirm my brother Faisal passed away in Texas, USA this morning.”

    “We are absolutely devastated as a family. We can't say much now as their[sic] is an ongoing FBI investigation.”

    “We would like to say that we as a family do not condone any of his actions and would like to sincerely apologize wholeheartedly to all the victims involved in the unfortunate incident.”

  • Jennifer Korn56 minutes ago

    Hostake-taker called New York rabbi

    During the siege, the hostage-taker called Angela Buchdahl, senior rabbi at Central Synagogue in New York City to relay his demands and wanted her to use her influence to secure the release of Aafia Siddiqui.

    The rabbi confirmed her involvement to the Jewish Telegraph Agency, and said she spoke twice to the hostage taker.

    “I can confirm that the gunman reached out to me twice yesterday by phone,” Buchdahl wrote in an email.

    “We are about to share a note with the congregation just confirming that. Other than that for security reasons I cannot share more.”

    It is not clear why Buchdahl was called by the gunman.

  • Jennifer KornToday, 18:00

    Hostage taker identified

    Authorities identified the hostage taker as 44-year-old Malik Faisal Akram, who is a British citizen.

    Akram was reportedly killed by officials after all hostages were safely rescued from the Fort Worth, Texas synagogue Saturday night.

  • Jennifer KornToday, 17:30

    Rabbi's Facebook statement, continued

    “I am grateful for my family.

    I am grateful for the CBI Community, the Jewish Community, the Human Community,” Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker continued.

    “I am grateful that we made it out.”

    “I am grateful to be alive.”

  • Jennifer KornToday, 17:00

    Rabbi issues Facebook statement

    Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker and three other hostages were rescued Saturday night.

    The Rabbi issued a statement on Facebook early Sunday Morning:

    “I am thankful and filled with appreciation for

    All of the vigils and prayers and love and support,

    All of the law enforcement and first responders who cared for us,

    All of the security training that helped save us.”

  • Jennifer KornToday, 16:30

    Where is Colleyville, Texas?

    Colleyville is around 15 miles northeast of Fort Worth.

    The city has a population of around 26,000.

  • Jennifer KornToday, 16:00

    Hostage taker may have been British

    According to multiple reports, the hostage taker was a British citizen.

    Authorities have identified the deceased suspect, but have not yet released a name.

  • Jennifer KornToday, 15:30

    President Biden's statement, continued

    “There is more we will learn in the days ahead about the motivations of the hostage taker,” said Biden.

    “But let me be clear to anyone who intends to spread hate – we will stand against antisemitism and against the rise of extremism in this country.”

  • Jennifer KornToday, 15:00

    What did President Biden say?

    After the hostages escaped, Biden said in a statement that he is “grateful to the tireless work of law enforcement at all levels who acted cooperatively and fearlessly to rescue the hostages.”

    “We are sending love and strength to the members of Congregation Beth Israel, Colleyville, and the Jewish community.”

  • Jennifer KornToday, 14:30

    Calls for gun control

    One Twitter user said “we need gun control now!” in response to the synagogue hostage situation.

    I shouldn't have to go to synagogue afraid of getting shot. I shouldn't have to have drills at school in the situation of a school shooter. Nobody should have to live in fear of guns.

    Today's events at the Beth Israel Temple are terrible. We need gun control now!

    — Jonah Tillman (@JonahTillman6) January 15, 2022

  • H. J. HayesToday, 14:00

    When were hostages released?

    Late on Saturday night, Texas Governor Greg Abbott confirmed that all four people were taken out of the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue.

    On Twitter, he shared the news and commented, “Prayers answered.”

  • H. J. HayesToday, 13:30

    Suspect ‘fatally shot’

    The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports the assailant in the synagogue hostage situation was fatally shot.

    “U.S. Rep. Beth Van Duyne told a Star-Telegram reporter in a text the hostage-taker is dead,” the outlet said.

    It is not yet known if the suspect was shot by authorities, or if the gunshot was self-inflicted.

  • H. J. HayesToday, 13:00

    Rabbi Cytron-Walker's civil rights backgrond

    Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker hails from Lansing, Michigan, and previously worked at Focus: HOPE, a civil and human rights organization in Detroit, Michigan.

    He was also the assistant director of the Amherst Survival Center.

    The rabbi graduated from the University of Michigan in 1998 and also attended Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

    He received his rabbinical ordination in 2006.

    Rabbi Cytron-Walker is a past president of the South West Association of Reform Rabbis and serves on the steering committee of Peace Together.

  • H. J. HayesToday, 12:30

    Who is Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker?

    Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker is a clergy member at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas.

    He is the synagogue’s first full-time rabbi since 2006.

  • H. J. HayesToday, 12:00

    Were there bombs at the Colleyville synagogue?

    A source told ABC news that the Colleyville hostage-taker had “bombs in unknown locations.”

    However, it’s not clear where any explosives may have been.

    Investigators on the scene said the assailant had backpacks on his person, and law enforcement treated the situation as though there were explosives confirmed on the scene.

  • H. J. HayesToday, 11:30

    NYPD deploys counter-terrorism team

    According to NBC correspondents, the New York Police Department has deployed its counter-terrorism teams to synagogues in the city, including a synagogue the suspect and rabbi in Colleyville placed a phone call to.

    “The hostage taker at the synagogue in Texas had the rabbi call a different rabbi in New York City,” NBC correspondent Tom Winter reported.

    The NYPD deployed counter-terrorism forces “out of an abundance of caution.”

    NBC correspondent Myles Mill, on the scene in New York City, said NYPD is providing security to multiple synagogues.

  • H. J. HayesToday, 11:00

    Attack began during livestream

    According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the attack on the Colleyville synagogue began while services were being livestreamed on Facebook.

    The live recording reportedly captured muffled audio of what might have been negotiations with police.

    No video footage of the events inside the synagogue was streamed, but speech from the suspect was audible, as well as the sound of a different voice apparently on the phone with police.

  • H. J. HayesToday, 10:30

    Beto O'Rourke makes statement

    Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke also took to Twitter with comment.

    “Sending strength to Colleyville as another Texas community is tragically targeted by a gunman,” he wrote during the crisis.

    In a follow-up tweet, he said, “I’m thinking of the Jewish community across Texas on another terrifying day. No person should ever have to fear for their safety in their place of worship.

    “We must address anti-Semitism while urgently working to fight hatred, bigotry, and violence throughout America.”

  • H. J. HayesToday, 10:00

    Ted Cruz makes statement

    Ted Cruz took to Twitter with a statement about the Colleyville hostage crisis.

    “Heidi and I are praying for those at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville and for the SWAT team and all other law enforcement on the scene responding,” he tweeted.

    “My staff and I are closely monitoring the situation and are in close contact with local and national authorities.”

  • H. J. HayesToday, 09:30

    President Biden was briefed on situation

    Jen Psaki tweeted that President Biden monitored the situation in Colleyville.

    “He will continue to receive updates from his senior team as the situation develops,” Psaki stated.

    “Senior members of the national security team are also in touch with federal law enforcement leadership.”

  • H. J. HayesToday, 09:00

    How long was the hostage situation active?

    The synagogue's morning service began around 10am, according to their calendar, which is around the time cops said they received calls about the situation.

    The hostage situation lasted almost 12 hours.

  • H. J. HayesToday, 08:30

    What did Aafia Siddiqui's family say?

    Aafia Siddiqui, also known as “Lady Al Qaeda,” is serving an 86-year sentence at a federal prison near Fort Worth.

    She's a Pakistani neuroscientist suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda.

    But a lawyer for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, representing her brother Muhammad, condemned the attack and said the family was working “for the release of their sister from incarceration by legal and non-violent means only.”

  • H. J. HayesToday, 08:00

    Assailant was ‘irritated,’ in ‘extreme distress’

    Texas resident Victoria Francis told the Associated Press that she was able to watch an hour of the live stream taking place inside the synagogue.

    “He was pretty irritated and the more irritated he got, he’d make more threats, like ‘I’m the guy with the bomb. If you make a mistake, this is all on you.’ And he’d laugh at that,” she told the outlet.

    “He was clearly in extreme distress.”

    A Meta spokesperson confirmed the livestream video was removed from Facebook.

  • H. J. HayesToday, 07:30

    CAIR National releases a statement

    “Our Houston chapter has verified that the brother of Aafia Siddiqui is not the perpetrator of the Colleyville synagogue attack,” CAIR’s national offices said on Twitter.

    “Whoever the attacker is, he’s committing a heinous act of evil.

    “No cause can justify or excuse this antisemitic crime.

    “We stand in solidarity with the Jewish community, and we pray that law enforcement swiftly and safely frees the hostages.”

  • H. J. HayesToday, 07:03

    Hostage situation had ‘nothing to do’ with Siddiqui family

    In a statement, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Mohamed Siddiqui’s legal team stated plainly that the Siddiqui family is not behind the attack on the Colleyville synagogue.

    CAIR-Houston Board Chair John Floyd and legal counsel for Aafia’s brother made clear that the hostage-taker is not Mohamed Siddiqui.

    Siddiqui “is not even in the same region where this horrible incident is taking place,” the statement reads.

    “We want the hostage-taker to know that Dr. Aafia Siddiqui and her family strongly condemn this act and do not stand by you.

    “This assailant has nothing to do with Dr. Aafia, her family, or the global campaign to get justice for Dr. Aafia.

    “On behalf of the family and Dr. Aafia, we call on you to immediately release the hostages and turn yourself in.

    The CAIR-Houston offices have represented Mohamed Siddiqui since 2004.

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