FBI Director: Synagogue Hostage-Taking an 'Act of Terrorism Targeting Jewish Community'

FBI Director: Synagogue Hostage-Taking an 'Act of Terrorism Targeting Jewish Community'
Congregation Beth Israel Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, facing camera, hugs a man after a healing service Jan. 17, 2022, at White's Chapel United Methodist Church in Southlake, Texas. Cytron-Walker was one of four people held hostage by a gunman at his Colleyville, Texas, synagogue on Saturday. (Yffy Yossifor/Star-Telegram via AP, File)

Christopher Wray, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), said that the agency is investigating the hostage crisis at a Texas synagogue on Saturday as "an act of terrorism targeting the Jewish community."

"This was not some random occurrence," Wray told viewers of a webinar hosted by the Anti-Defamation League. "It was intentional, it was symbolic, and we're not going to tolerate antisemitism in this country."

Matthew DeSarno, the special agent in charge of the FBI's Dallas field office, had initially claimed that the attack from British citizen Malik Faisal Akram, a Muslim, against the Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville was "not specifically related to the Jewish community."

The initial assessment from the Dallas FBI drew immediate backlash from the Jewish community and its supporters.

"It is very disturbing to hear from the FBI they do not believe the hostage taker's demands had anything to do with the Jewish faith," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., posted to Twitter on Sunday.

During the attack, which was partially live-streamed, Akram can be heard demanding the release of Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui.

Siddiqui is currently serving an 86-year prison sentence in neighboring Fort Worth for "terroristic events" in Afghanistan, including attempting to kill two U.S. soldiers.

"Apparently the FBI believes the hostage taker randomly selected a synagogue to demand the release of al-Qaeda operative and facilitator Aafia Siddiqui," Graham added

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