British hostage-taker behind Texas synagogue siege bought return plane ticket to the UK

ITV News Global Security Editor Rohit Kachroo has the latest developments on the British man from Blackburn who was shot dead after taking four people hostage at a Texas synagogue


The British man who was shot dead after taking worshippers hostage at a Texas synagogue had bought a return plane ticket to the UK, ITV News understands.

Malik Faisal Akram, 44, from Blackburn was killed after taking four people hostage at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville on Saturday.All four hostages were unharmed after they managed to run out of the synagogue with a SWAT team entering soon after. Akram died at the scene.

ITV News Global Security Editor Rohit Kachroo has learnt that he travelled to New York from Manchester on December 29- just over two weeks before the shootings- with a return flight booked for February 2.

US President Joe Biden has branded the incident “an act of terror” and UK police are working with authorities in America on the investigation.

On Monday, Home Secretary Priti Patel said she had spoken to her US counterpart Alejandro Mayorkas and offered “the full support” of the UK police and security services in the investigation.


Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who was held hostage in the synagogue, recalls how he and a few other hostages managed to escape the gunman


Greater Manchester Police (GMP) announced that officers from Counter Terror Policing North West had arrested two teenagers in south Manchester on Sunday evening.

GMP said police forces in the region are liaising with local communities to put in place any measures to provide further reassurance.

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, one of the people held hostage in the synagogue, described his "terrifying" ordeal.

He recalled making tea for Akram before the congregation but said although Akram's story didn't add up, he did not hear anything suspicious.

Malik Faisal Akram, who held four people hostage inside a synagogue in Texas, has been pictured.

It was during prayer, when Rabbi Cytron-Walker had his back turned as he faced towards Jerusalem, that he heard the click of Akram's gun.

He said: "The last hour or so of the standoff, he wasn't getting what he wanted. It didn't look good, it didn't sound good, we were terrified.

"And when I saw an opportunity where he wasn't in a good position, I made sure that the two gentlemen who were still with me, that they were ready to go, that the exit wasn't too far away.

"I told them to go, I threw a chair at the gunman and I headed for the door and all three of us were able to get out without even a shot being fired."

He added he was "so grateful" the prayer was done partly virtually, with fewer people at the synagogue during the attack.

He also said training he had with various authorities allowed him and the other three hostages to make it through the 10-hour ordeal, the rabbi said.

Akram was shot following the 10-hour standoff at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville Credit: AP

Akram’s family said they were “absolutely devastated” by what had happened and “do not condone any of his actions”, according to a statement that had been shared on the Blackburn Muslim Community Facebook page.

The statement, attributed to Akram’s brother Gulbar who said he had been involved in negotiating from the UK with his sibling during the ordeal, added that the hostage-taker “was suffering from mental health issues”.

US officials believe Akram had a visa, arrived at John F Kennedy International Airport in New York around two weeks ago and bought a handgun used in the incident.

Condemning what had happened, the statement from Akram’s family said: “We would like to say that we as a family do not condone any of his actions and would like to sincerely apologise wholeheartedly to all the victims involved in the unfortunate incident.”

The hostages managed to leave the building unharmed on Saturday Credit: AP

Akram is said to have demanded the release of Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui, who was convicted of trying to kill US army officers in Afghanistan, and is in prison in Texas.

Speaking to reporters after the incident, FBI special agent in charge Matt DeSarno said they believed the man was “singularly focused on one issue and it was not specifically related to the Jewish community”, and added they will continue to “work to find motive”.

Confirming that the hostage-taker had died, he said there would be “an independent investigation of the shooting incident”.

He said the FBI had been in contact with their legal attache offices in London and Israel for an investigation with “global reach”.

On Monday, Home Secretary Priti Patel said she had spoken to her US counterpart Alejandro Mayorkas and offered “the full support” of the UK police and security services in the investigation.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss condemned the “act of terrorism and anti-semitism”, while the British Ambassador to the United States Karen Pierce said UK authorities are providing “full support to Texas and US law enforcement agencies”.