UK Arrests 2 in Connection With Synagogue Standoff

White House says Akram wasn't on terrorist screening database
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 20, 2022 4:27 AM CST
UK Arrests 2 Men Over Synagogue Hostage-Taking
This Jan. 2, 2022 photo provided by OurCalling, LLC shows Malik Faisal Akram, at a Dallas homeless shelter.   (OurCalling, LLC via AP)

British police say they have arrested two people in connection with Saturday's hostage-taking at a synagogue in Texas. Counter Terrorism Police North West said one man was arrested Thursday in Birmingham, central England, and another in the city of Manchester, the AP reports. They were being held for questioning and have not yet been charged. Malik Faisal Akram, a 44-year-old British citizen, took four people hostage at a Texas synagogue in a 10-hour standoff that ended in his death. Law enforcement officials tell the Washington Post that he was shot by FBI agents after they disoriented him with a stun grenade. Akram entered the United States as a tourist about two weeks earlier and spent time in Dallas-area homeless shelters before Saturday's attack at Congregation Beth Israel, in the suburb of Colleyville.

Two British teenagers were arrested as part of the investigation on Sunday and later released without charge. Akram was checked against law enforcement databases before entering the US but raised no red flags, the White House said Wednesday. Akram was not believed to be included in the Terrorist Screening Database, a listing of known or suspected terrorists maintained by the FBI and shared with a variety of federal agencies, two law enforcement officials told the AP. Had he been included, it would have been extremely difficult for him to get into the country. The BBC reports that Akram was investigated by Britain's MI5 security service in late 2020 but was removed from the watchlist in 2021 because he was no longer considered a threat. (The synagogue's rabbi says he escaped with two other hostages after throwing a chair at Akram.)

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