10-Hour Texas Synagogue Standoff Ends

Hostages freed, captor is dead
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 16, 2022 5:45 AM CST
Texas Synagogue Captor Killed, Hostages Free After 10 Hours
Colleyville police chief addresses reporters after a SWAT operation Texas synagogue   (Smiley N. Pool/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

(Newser) – Four hostages are safe and their captor is dead after an hourslong standoff that began when the man took over services at a Texas synagogue where he could be heard ranting on a livestream and demanding the release of a Pakistani neuroscientist who was convicted of trying to kill US Army officers in Afghanistan, per the AP. One hostage held Saturday at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville was released during the standoff; three others got out about 9pm when an FBI SWAT team entered the building, authorities said. The hostage taker was killed and FBI Special Agent in Charge Matt DeSarno said a team would investigate “the shooting incident.” Video from Dallas TV station WFAA shows people running out a door of the synagogue, and then a man holding a gun opening the same door just seconds later, before he turns around and closes the door.

Moments later, several rounds of gunfire can be heard, followed by the sound of an explosion. FBI and police spokeswomen declined to answer questions about who shot the man. DeSarno said the hostage taker was specifically focused on an issue not directly connected to the Jewish community, and there was no immediate indication that the man was part of any broader plan. But DeSarno said the agency’s investigation “will have global reach.” It wasn't clear why the attacker chose the synagogue. Law enforcement officials who were not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation and spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity earlier said that the hostage-taker demanded the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist suspected of having ties to al-Qaida. He also said he wanted to be able to speak with her.

Siddiqui is in federal prison in Texas. Multiple people heard the hostage-taker refer to Siddiqui as his “sister” on the livestream. But John Floyd, board chair for the Houston chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations—the nation’s largest Muslim advocacy group—said Siddiqui’s brother, Mohammad Siddiqui, was not involved. DeSarno said Saturday night that the man had been identified “but we are not prepared to release his identity or confirm his identity at this time." (Read more Texas synagogue stories.)

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