Investigators are now treating the hours-long hostage incident at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas on Saturday as a “terrorism-related matter,” and U.K. authorities assisting in the investigation have arrested two teenagers in connection with the hostage incident.
The Independent reported the two teenagers were arrested in Manchester in connection with Malik Faisal Akram, the British national who took four hostages at a Synagogue in Texas on Saturday. The Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said the teenagers remain in custody for questioning and their, names, ages and genders have not been revealed at this time.
In a statement provided to Fox News, the FBI said “This is a terrorism-related matter, in which the Jewish community was targeted, and is being investigated by the Joint Terrorism Task Force.”
On Sunday, President Joe Biden told reporters that the incident “was an act of terror.”
Akram held a rabbi and three congregants hostage for hours on Saturday, during which time he claimed to be the brother of convicted terrorist Aafia Siddiqui and demanded her release. Siddiqui held ties with Al Qaeda and was convicted in 2010 for the attempted murder of a U.S. soldier two years earlier in Afghanistan. She was also previously married to the nephew of Al Qaeda leader and confessed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Siddiqui is currently incarcerated at Carswell Air Force Base near Fort Worth.
Marwa Elbially, the attorney representing Siddiqui, has said Akram and Siddiqui were not related.
Akram was fatally shot by authorities during the hostage rescue effort. All four hostages were safely rescued and were uninjured.
FBI special agent in charge Matt DeSarno has said the FBI believes Akram’s motive was “not specifically related to the Jewish community,” but that he was “singularly focused on one issue.” DeSarno said the FBI would continue to “work to find [a] motive.”
The U.K.’s Counter Terrorism Policing Network is assisting the FBI with investigative efforts.
In a statement, Counter Terror Policing North West Assistant Chief Constable Dominic Scally said, “We can confirm that the suspect, who is deceased, is 44-year-old Malik Faisal Akram, originally from the Blackburn area of Lancashire. I can also confirm that Counter Terror Policing North West is assisting with the investigation being led by the US Authorities. Police forces in the region will continue to liaise with their local communities, including the Jewish community, and will put in place any necessary measures to provide reassurance to them.”
In a Facebook post reported by the Independent, Akram’s brother Gulbar said his family was “absolutely devastated” to learn of Akram’s death.
“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,” Gulbar added.
“Although my brother was suffering from mental health issues we were confident that he would not harm the hostages,” Gulbar said. “Later a firefight has taken place and he was shot and killed . . . There was nothing we could have said to him or done that would have convinced him to surrender.”