The man who took hostages at a Texas synagogue Saturday perpetrated “an act of terror,” according to President Joe Biden.
Authorities say 44-year-old British national Malik Faisal Akram is the man who entered a Forth Worth-area synagogue and took four hostages just weeks after flying to America from England, The New York Times reported.
Akram ultimately let one of the hostages go, authorities said. That night, the FBI’s hostage rescue team breached the synagogue and saved the three remaining hostages.
The suspect died in the resulting gunfire following a standoff that lasted roughly 11 hours.
“This was an act of terror,” Biden told reporters Sunday. “I wanted to make sure we got the word out to synagogues and places of worship that we’re not going to tolerate this, that we have this capacity to deal with the assaults on particularly the anti-Semitism that has grown up.”
NEW — Biden on the hostage situation at a synagogue in Texas last night: “This was an act of terror.” pic.twitter.com/zwwbAGEPq4
— Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim) January 16, 2022
Law enforcement seemed to have a pretty good idea of what was motivating Akram. According to Special Agent in Charge Matthew DeSarno of the FBI’s Dallas Field Office, the suspect “was singularly focused on one issue.”
“The F.B.I. said on Sunday that he spoke of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist, who was convicted in 2010 and sentenced to 86 years in prison for trying to kill American military officers while she was in custody in Afghanistan,” The Times reported.
The FBI apparently agrees with Biden’s “act of terror” assessment.
“This is a terrorism-related matter, in which the Jewish community was targeted, and is being investigated by the Joint Terrorism Task Force,” the agency said in a statement obtained by Fox News.
According to Biden, Akram may have been armed with weapons he bought illegally.
“The assertion was he got the weapons on the street. He purchased them when he landed,” Biden told reporters.
“Apparently, he spent the first night in a homeless shelter. I don’t have all the detail yet, so I’m reluctant to go into more detail, but, and allegedly, he purchased it on the street. Now what that means, I don’t know. Whether he purchased it from an individual in a homeless shelter or a homeless community, because that’s where he said he was, it’s hard to tell,” the president added.
Biden also pointed out that a universal background check system probably would not have stopped Akram from purchasing those weapons.
“The idea of background checks are critical,” he said. “But you can’t stop something like this if someone is on the street buying something from somebody else on the street.”