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Texas synagogue: Brother urged Texas hostage-taker to surrender

The British gunman who held four people hostage in a Texas synagogue was urged to surrender by his brother in their final phone call, it has emerged.

An audio recording of the conversation was obtained by the Jewish Chronicle.

In the call, which gunman Malik Faisal Akram made to his family in Blackburn as the siege was going on, he tells his brother he has “come to die”.

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Akram, 44, was shot dead by the FBI after the 10-hour standoff in Colleyville, near Dallas.

He had entered the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue during a morning service by pretending to be homeless, before pulling out a gun.

All of the hostages were freed unharmed.

The recording of the phone call was obtained from a security source, the Jewish Chronicle says. The BBC is unable to vouch for its authenticity but experts believe it to be genuine.

It reveals the efforts made by Akram’s family to get him to surrender – as well as Akram’s deteriorating mental state and the increasing tension inside the synagogue.

In the clip, his brother Gulbar tries repeatedly to talk him into surrendering, telling him that his hostages are innocent people and asking him to think about his children.

But the gunman tells his brother he has set his heart on dying and he wanted to “go down as a martyr”.

“I’ve only been here two weeks and I’ve got them all at gunpoint,” he says, later adding: “I’m coming back home in a body bag.”

Law enforcement personnel continue the investigation to the hostage incident at Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, USA, 16 January 2022.

Image source, EPA

In a barely coherent rant, thick with four-letter expletives, he rails against Jews and US military actions in the Middle East.

He repeatedly calls for convicted Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui, imprisoned in nearby Fort Worth, to be released. She is serving an 86-year prison sentence over attempts to kill US soldiers in Afghanistan.

Akram also tells his brother: “I’ve prayed to Allah for two years for this.”

MI5 had investigated Akram 18 months ago but decided he did not pose a risk to national security.

He had been on the British security service’s watchlist as a “subject of interest” in 2020 and was investigated in the second half of that year.

But by 2021 Akram, who had a criminal record in the UK, had moved from the active list to the “former subject of interest” list and was no longer considered a threat.

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He is thought to have arrived in the US via New York’s JFK International Airport two weeks ago, according to police sources, and he is believed to have bought weapons used in the incident “on the street” after his arrival.

Akram’s brother Gulbar has apologised to the victims and said his brother had been suffering from mental health issues.

Friends of Akram in Blackburn also said his mental health had been getting worse and expressed surprise that he had been able to travel to the US.

Two teenagers were arrested in south Manchester as part of the investigation but have since been released without charge.

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