Police given extra time to question two men over Texas synagogue attack

21 January 2022, 20:29 | Updated: 21 January 2022, 22:48

Detectives have been given extra time to question two men as part of the investigation into the Texas synagogue attack
Detectives have been given extra time to question two men as part of the investigation into the Texas synagogue attack. Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

Police have been granted extra time to question two men arrested in connection with the Texas synagogue attack by British hostage-taker Malik Faisal Akram.

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The two men who were arrested on Thursday in Birmingham and Manchester remain in custody and officers have been granted an extension of custody to continue to question them further, Greater Manchester Police confirmed.

British citizen Malik Faisal Akram was shot dead by the FBI on Saturday following a 10-hour siege at a synagogue in Texas.

The 44-year-old, who was originally from Blackburn in Lancashire, held people hostage during the incident but they were later released unharmed.

The Tarrant County Medical Examiner on Friday ruled Akram's death a homicide as a result of multiple gunshot wounds.

In Texas, a death being ruled as a homicide indicates that one person was killed by another - but does not necessarily mean the killing was a crime.

A statement from Greater Manchester Police on Friday said: "We continue to work closely with colleagues from other forces.

"Communities defeat terrorism, and the help and support we get from the public is a vital part of that.

"So we would urge everyone to remain vigilant, and if you do see anything suspicious then please report it, in confidence, to police via the anti-terrorist hotline or gov.uk/ACT. It won't ruin lives, but it may well save them."

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During a press conference in Texas on Friday, Matthew DeSarno, of the FBI, said Akram was not known and had no prior contact with US intelligence services.

He described the incident as a "federal hate crime" and added that the FBI is conducting "rigorous" analysis of Akram's associates, his online presence and his devices.

"Today we've had significant success in tracking Akram's movements and identifying the persons with whom he interacted while inside the United States," Mr DeSarno said.

"This includes from the time he landed in New York on December 29 until he entered the Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue on January 15."

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who was one of the hostages inside the synagogue, thanked the police, law enforcement agencies and Colleyville Mayor Richard Newton for their support during the press conference.

He added: "I stand up here before you with great gratitude just to be alive, with such appreciation for all of those small little details that add up to something that, fortunately, was pretty miraculous.

"And so with gratitude, to God, with gratitude for all of those individual human efforts that allow us to be here today, I'm just overflowing with gratitude."

It was revealed on Tuesday that Akram had previously been investigated by MI5 but officers had concluded he did not pose a threat.

It is not yet clear how Akram was able to travel to the US two weeks ago despite his UK criminal record.

US officials believe Akram had a visa, arrived at John F Kennedy International Airport in New York and bought the handgun used in the incident.

The FBI said they are still "working hard to learn more about how Akram acquired the firearm he possessed".

According to reports, he stayed at a homeless shelter and is believed to have bought a gun on the street before taking four people hostage at the synagogue, one of whom was released after around six hours.

In new audio footage of the final conversation Akram had with his younger brother Gulbar, he can be heard saying" "I need to do that".

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"Yeah I've taken some hostages, I've been surrounded, I'm in a synagogue," Akram can be heard saying in the audio footage released by the Jewish Chronicle.

His younger brother replied: "But why you doing that man? Why you doing that... What's wrong with you? Why have you come to die?"

He continues to try and urge his brother to surrender, saying "think about your kids".