Two men arrested in Manchester over Texas synagogue siege

26 January 2022, 09:57

British hostage-taker Malik Faisal Akram
British hostage-taker Malik Faisal Akram. Picture: Supplied

By Megan Hinton

Police have arrested two men in Manchester as part of the investigation into the Texas synagogue attack by British hostage-taker Malik Faisal Akram.

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In a statement issued on Wednesday, Counter Terrorism Policing North West said: "Officers from Counter Terrorism Policing North West are continuing with their investigation following the events in Texas. They are working closely with and are supporting US law enforcement.

"As part of the local investigation, two men have been arrested this morning in Manchester. They remain in custody for questioning.

"We continue to work closely with colleagues from other forces."

Two men arrested in Birmingham and Manchester on January 20 as part of the same probe have been released from custody with no further action.

Akram, 44, who was originally from Blackburn in Lancashire, was shot dead when the FBI entered the place of worship in Colleyville on January 15 following a 10-hour stand-off.

He held four people hostage during the incident, but they were later released unharmed.

Read more: 'Think about your kids': Brother's desperate phone call with Texas synagogue attacker

Read more: Two men arrested in Birmingham and Manchester over Texas synagogue siege

FBI director Christopher Wray called the stand-off an antisemitic incident, while US President Joe Biden said it was an "act of terror".

In a press conference held in Texas last Friday, the FBI said Akram was not known and had no prior contact with US intelligence services.

The bureau said it is conducting "rigorous" analysis of Akram's associates, his online presence and his devices.

Akram had flown to New York on December 29 before he later travelled to Texas and entered the Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue.

Akram - understood to have a criminal record - was investigated by MI5 in 2020 but deemed not to be a credible threat to national security at the time, official sources previously confirmed.

It is not yet clear how he was able to travel to the US despite his UK criminal record.

The FBI said it is "working hard" to learn more about how Akram acquired the firearm he possessed.

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In audio footage of the final conversation Akram had with his younger brother Gulbar, the 44-year-old, originally from Blackburn in Lancashire, can be heard saying "I need to do that".

"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 for? 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".

"Mate you don't need to do this," he pleads.

"Whatever you're doing man just pack it in mate, you'll do a bit of time and you'll come out.

"These guys are innocent man, these guys you've got there are innocent people.

In the extended version of the disturbing 11-minute audio clip, obtained exclusively by the Jewish Chronicle, the hostage-taker can also be heard ranting about the "f***ing Jews".

The 44-year-old said: "I'm opening the doors for every youngster in England to enter America and f*** with them."

Addressing fellow jihadists, he shouted: "Live your f***ing life bro, you f***ing coward. We're coming to f***ing America. F*** them if they want to f*** with us. We'll give them f***ing war."