Teenagers held in Manchester over Texas synagogue siege released without charge

18 January 2022, 19:27 | Updated: 18 January 2022, 19:30

Two people arrested by Greater Manchester Police after the Texas synagogue stand-off have been released
Two people arrested by Greater Manchester Police after the Texas synagogue stand-off have been released. Picture: Getty/Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

Two teenagers who were arrested in Manchester as part of investigations into a hostage-taking at a synagogue in Texas have been released without charge, police say.

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The pair were arrested in South Manchester on Sunday in connection with the siege, which saw four people including a rabbi held hostage for up to 10 hours.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said on Tuesday the teenagers had been released without charge, and said officers from Counter Terrorism Policing North West (CTPMW) were working with US authorities.

"Two teenagers, who were both detained in south Manchester, have since been released without charge," a police statement said.

"An address in north Manchester has been searched as part of the Counter Terrorism Policing North West investigation."

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"CTP North West is continuing to assist with the investigation which is being led by US authorities," said Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Dominic Scally.

"Overnight, constructive meetings with colleagues from the United States have taken place.

"As part of our enquiries, we're also working with colleagues in other forces and Lancashire Police are working with communities in the Blackburn area to put measures in place to provide reassurance."

Saturday's incident took place at the Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue in Colleyville, Texas.

Four people were held by British citizen Malik Faisal Akram, and were eventually freed unharmed after several hours.

Akram was shot dead by the FBI moments after his "terrified" hostages escaped.

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

A Whitehall source told the Telegraph: "Malik Akram was known to MI5 and was the subject of a short lead investigation in 2020.

"The investigation was opened in the second part of 2020 and was closed shortly afterwards with an assessment that there was no indication he presented a terrorist threat at that time."

He was no longer under investigation at the time he flew to the US.

On Monday the rabbi who was held recalled how he and the other hostages were able to escape only after he threw a chair at their captor.

Speaking to CBS News, Charlie Cytron-Walker said that towards the end - when their captor "wasn't getting what he wanted" - he saw an opportunity and took it.

"The last hour or so of the stand-off (our captor) wasn't getting what he wanted," the rabbi told the US broadcaster.

"It didn't look good, it didn't sound good.

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"We were terrified.

"When I saw an opportunity, where he wasn't in a good position, I made sure the two gentleman who were with me... were ready to go.

"I told them to go, I threw a chair at the gunman, I headed for the door, and all three of us were able to get out."