Police arrest 2 in connection with US synagogue incident

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Media reports said Akram was investigated in 2020 by Britain’s domestic security agency MI5, which shut down the probe after a little over a month due to a lack of evidence that he was a threat…reports Asian Lite News

British police on Thursday arrested two men over their alleged role in a hostage taking by a British man at a synagogue in Texas last weekend.

The men were arrested in Birmingham in central England and in Manchester in northwestern England on Thursday morning by counter-terrorism officers, Greater Manchester Police said in a tweet.

The men are being questioned in custody by Counter Terrorism Policing North West.

A man from Blackburn in northwestern England, 44-year-old Malik Faisal Akram, was shot dead during a 10-hour siege on Saturday. The four hostages including a rabbi were all freed unharmed.

Media reports said Akram was investigated in 2020 by Britain’s domestic security agency MI5, which shut down the probe after a little over a month due to a lack of evidence that he was a threat.

Reports say the hostage-taker was seeking the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist known as “Lady Al-Qaeda,” whose detention has been a cause celebre for jihadists.

Police on Sunday arrested two teenagers and searched a property in Manchester some 21 miles (34 kilometres) from Blackburn in connection with the siege but released them without charge.

‘I’m coming home in a body bag’

Malik Faisal Akram said his decision to kidnap a rabbi and three others at the Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, on Saturday was his own declaration of war on America, claiming: “I’ve come to die”, the Daily Mail reported.

The Blackburn terrorist who held up a synagogue ranted about “f***ing Jews” and urged more British Muslims to launch jihad in the United States in a disturbing final phone call to his family, minutes before he was shot dead following the hostage standoff in Texas, the report said.

His ranting about “f***ing Jews” further undermines the FBI’s initial bizarre and insulting claims that the British terrorist’s attack wasn’t ‘specifically’ anti-Semitic, despite his decision to target a synagogue 4,500 miles from home and threat to blow it up after two years of planning, the report said.

Father-of-six Akram, who had been in the US for a fortnight and bought his gun ‘off the street’ in Texas, had said: “I’ve told my kids to man up. Don’t cry at my funeral. I’ve been praying to Allah for two years for this. I’m coming home in a body bag.”

In a recording of his last phone call to his brother Gulbar, 43, Akram said he had promised their younger sibling Gulzameer, who died of Covid last year, ‘that I’d go down a martyr’, the report added.

It came as two men were arrested in Manchester and Birmingham by British counter-terrorism police, who are working with the FBI.

Gulbar Akram told him what he was doing was a ‘sin’ and urged him to give himself up, claiming he could ‘do a little time’ in prison and come back to Blackburn.

But Faisal exploded with rage, screaming: “I’d rather live one day as a lion than 100 years as a jackal. I’m going to go toe-to-toe with [police] and they can shoot me dead. I’m coming home in a body bag,” as per the report.

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