texas

Recording of Call by Texas Temple Hostage-Taker Released

In the call, the hostage-taker's brother urged him to lay down his arms and return to his children alive

Getty Images

A media outlet has released a recording of the British man who held four people hostage in a Texas temple. In a call with his brother, the man ranted against Jews and American wars in countries like Afghanistan.

The Jewish Chronicle said the recording was part of a longer 11 1/2-minute recording obtained from a “security source." NBC News has confirmed the audio obtained and released by The Jewish Chronicle is authentic.

In the expletive-filled recording during the Saturday standoff, 44-year-old Malik Faisal Akram said he was well-equipped with weaponry as he talked with his brother from inside Congregation Beth Israel in the Dallas suburb of Colleyville.

Gulbar Akram, who was speaking from a British police station in an attempt to persuade him to surrender, urged his brother to lay down his weapons and return to his children alive.

In response, Akram became increasingly agitated and said he hoped U.S. authorities would take notice of the Jewish hostages and agree to his demand that they release Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist convicted of trying to kill U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.

Akram said he had prayed about the attack for two years. He said he was ready to die as a martyr and that his children shouldn’t cry at his funeral.

Saturday’s 10-hour standoff at the temple ended after the last hostage ran out of the temple and an FBI SWAT team rushed in. Akram was killed. Authorities have declined to say who shot him.

In a webinar Thursday hosted by the Anti-Defamation League, FBI Director Christopher Wray said the agency understands that such acts are terrifying to the entire Jewish community.

“This was not some random occurrence. It was intentional. It was symbolic, and we’re not going to tolerate antisemitism in this country,” Wray said.

After three men escaped a hostage situation in a Colleyville temple, both they and the FBI credited the work of an organization that devotes itself to protecting Jewish communities.

The FBI continues to search phones and other devices as it investigates why Akram targeted this particular temple, Wray said.

Meanwhile, British police said Thursday that they have detained two people in connection with the hostage-taking.

Counter Terrorism Police North West said one man was detained Thursday in Birmingham and another in Manchester. They were being held for questioning and have not been charged.

The police did not disclose details about the two people. British police do not release names and details of detainees until they are charged.

On Sunday, police detained British teenagers in Manchester as part of the investigation. They were later released without charge.

Malik Faisal Akram was from Blackburn, an industrial city in northwest England. His family said he had been “suffering from mental health issues.”

He entered the United States on a tourist visa about two weeks earlier and spent time in Dallas-area homeless shelters before the temple attack.

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who is believed to be one of four people held hostage at Congregation Beth Israel on Saturday, is the synagogue's only rabbi. He's been at the synagogue in Colleyville since 2006. NBC 5's Scott Gordon has more.

The FBI has called the incident “a terrorism-related matter" targeting the Jewish community.

British media, including the Guardian and the BBC, have reported that Akram was investigated by the domestic intelligence service MI5 as a possible “terrorist threat” in 2020. But authorities concluded that he posed no danger, and the investigation was closed.

The White House said Tuesday that Akram had been checked against U.S. law enforcement databases before entering the country but raised no red flags.


Associated Press Writer Eric Tucker in Washington contributed to this report.

AP/NBC
Contact Us