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Texas hostage-taker British

Family do not condone any of his actions



COLLEYVILLE, United States (AFP) — The man who held four people hostage at a Texas synagogue was identified by United States (US) authorities as a British citizen Sunday while United Kingdom police later arrested two teens over an attack that President Joe Biden called an “act of terror.”

The captor, who died in the 10-hour siege in the small town of Colleyville on Saturday, was named by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as 44-year-old Malik Faisal Akram.

Hours later, Britain’s counter terrorism police arrested two people and were questioning them in connection with the incident.

“Two teenagers were detained in South Manchester this evening. They remain in custody,” the Greater Manchester Police said in a statement.

The FBI’s field office in Dallas had earlier said there was “no indication” that anyone else was involved in the attack on the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue.

The four hostages — including a respected local rabbi, Charlie Cytron-Walker — were all freed unharmed Saturday night, prompting relief in the US.

A man identifying himself as Akram’s brother Gulbar said in a Facebook post that the suspect had suffered from mental health problems.

“We would like to say that we as a family do not condone any of his actions and would like to sincerely apologize wholeheartedly to all the victims involved in the unfortunate incident,” Gulbar said in the post to a Muslim community Facebook page in Blackburn, in northwest England — where British police said Akram was from.

Gulbar added that he had been in touch with law enforcement in Texas and that his family hoped to get Akram’s body back to Britain for a funeral.

Biden declined to speculate on the motive but appeared to confirm reports that the hostage-taker was seeking the release of convicted terrorist Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist known as “Lady Al-Qaeda.”

“This was an act of terror” committed by an assailant who apparently “insisted on the release of someone who’s been in prison for over 10 years,” Biden told reporters during a visit to a hunger relief organization in Philadelphia.

Siddiqui, the first woman to be suspected by the US of links to Al-Qaeda and a cause celebre in Pakistan and in South Asian jihadist circles, was detained in Afghanistan in 2008.

Two years later she was sentenced by a New York court to 86 years in prison for the attempted murder of US officers in Afghanistan.

She is currently being held at a prison in Fort Worth, Texas — about 32 kilometers away from the synagogue which Akram attacked.

Siddiqui’s lawyer has said she “has absolutely no involvement” in the hostage situation and condemned it.