LONDON (AP) — A British man who held four people hostage in a Texas synagogue ranted against Jews and American wars in countries like Afghanistan as his brother pleaded with him to give up and free the captives, a recording of the conversation shows.
The expletive-filled recording, posted on the website of The Jewish Chronicle, indicates the motivation of Malik Faisal Akram, 44, who said he was “bombed up” and equipped with “every ammunition” as he talked to his brother on Saturday from inside Congregation Beth Israel in Coleyville, Texas.
Gulbar Akram desperately tried to get his brother to lay down his weapons and return to his children alive.
“You don’t need to do this. Why are you doing this,?″ Gulbar told his brother. “Just pack it in. You’ll do a bit of time and then you’ll get out.”
“These guys you’ve got there, they’re innocent people, man,” he said.
In response, Malik Faisal 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, was ready to become a martyr, and his children shouldn’t cry at his funeral.
“I promised my brother when I watched him on his deathbed that I’d go down as a martyr,” he said at one stage. One of his younger brothers, who contracted COVID-19, died a few months ago.
“I’ve come to die G, ok?″ the hostage-taker told his brother. “I’ve prayed to Allah for two years for this … I’m coming back in a body-bag.″
Saturday’s 10-hour standoff at the synagogue in the Dallas suburb ended with Malik Faisal Akram’s death. All four hostages were released unharmed.
The Chronicle said the recording was part of a longer 11 1/2-minute recording that it obtained from a “security source.” The Associated Press wasn’t able to independently confirm the authenticity of the recording, but experts believe it to be genuine.
Meanwhile, British police said Thursday that they have arrested two people in connection with the hostage-taking.
Counter Terrorism Police North West said one man was arrested Thursday in Birmingham, central England, and another in the northern English city of Manchester. They are being held for questioning and have not yet been charged.
The police did not disclose details about the two people detained Thursday. British police do not release names and details of detainees until they are charged.
On Sunday, police arrested British teenagers in Manchester as part of the investigation. They were later released without charge.
The counter-terrorism police force in England said it was continuing to support U.S. authorities with their investigation.
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 synagogue attack.
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 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.