Two arrests in Manchester over Texas synagogue attack

Malik Faisal Akram was killed by the FBI after taking hostages

Malik Faisal Akram at a Dallas shelter for the homeless before he took four people hostage during a 10-hour stand-off at a Texas synagogue. AP Photo
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British police have arrested two people in Manchester in connection with a hostage taking at a Texas synagogue.

Malik Faisal Akram, 44, from Blackburn in Lancashire, was shot dead when the FBI stormed the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville on January 15 following a 10-hour stand-off.

Investigations are continuing into how Akram — who had a string of previous convictions — was able to enter the US to carry out the attack, during which he took four people hostage.

Greater Manchester Police said on Wednesday that counter-terrorism officers had made further arrests.

“Officers from Counter Terrorism Policing North West are continuing with their investigation following the events in Texas,” they said in a statement.

“They are working closely with and are supporting US law enforcement.

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

“We continue to work closely with colleagues from other forces. Communities defeat terrorism and the help and support we get from the public is a vital part of that.”

Akram was known to UK authorities and had previously been labelled a “menace” after telling judicial officials he wished they had died on an Al Qaeda-hijacked plane on September 11, 2001.

The hostage taker was originally from the industrial town of Blackburn in the north-west of England, where he had been known to authorities for the past two decades for criminal offences and for expressing extremist views.

Police have also questioned three other men in Manchester, and another in the central English city of Birmingham, in connection with the attack.

In audio footage released of Akram's last phone call with his brother, it was revealed he had been planning the attack for two years and had wanted to die as a “martyr".

The attack was staged in an apparent bid to win the release of Pakistani woman Aafia Siddiqui, known as “Lady Al Qaeda”, who has been jailed for the attempted murder of US soldiers in Afghanistan.

British intelligence officials have confirmed Akram was investigated by them in 2020 but was not deemed a threat.

Updated: January 26, 2022, 11:56 AM