The gunman who took four people hostage at a Texas synagogue in a 10-hour standoff that ended in his death was checked against law enforcement databases before entering the United States but raised no alarm bells, the White House said on Tuesday.
Malik Faisal Akram, a 44-year-old British citizen, arrived in the United States at New York’s Kennedy Airport about two weeks ago, a law enforcement official said. He spent time at Dallas-area homeless shelters before Saturday’s attack in suburban Colleyville.
British media, including the Guardian, reported on Tuesday that Akram had been investigated by the domestic intelligence service MI5 as a possible “terrorist threat” in 2020, but the probe was closed after authorities concluded that he posed no threat.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Akram does not appear to have raised any alarms in US terrorism databases when he entered the country.
“Our understanding, and obviously we’re still reviewing this, is that he was checked multiple times against US government databases before entering the country, and the US government had no derogatory information about the individual. into our systems at the time of entry,” Psaki said.
She added: “We’re certainly looking back…what happened to learn every possible lesson to prevent attacks like this in the future.”
The clash in Colleyville, a town of about 26,000 people 30 miles northwest of Dallas, ended after the last of the hostages fled the synagogue and an FBI SWAT team swooped down. is rushed. Akram was killed, but authorities declined to say who shot him, saying he was still under investigation.
President Joe Biden called the episode an act of terror.
Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who was among the hostages, told “CBS Mornings” he let Akram into Congregation Beth Israel on Saturday morning because he seemed to need shelter.
Cytron-Walker said the man was not threatening or suspicious at first, but later heard the click of a gun as he prayed.
A hostage was released hours later, and the rabbi and two others later escaped after Cytron-Walker threw a chair at the shooter.
During the clash, Akram could be heard on a Facebook livestream calling for the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist suspected of having ties to al-Qaeda and convicted of attempting to kill army officers. US Army in Afghanistan. The prison where Siddiqui is serving his sentence is near Fort Worth.
A Texas attorney representing Siddiqui said the prisoner had no connection to Akram.
The investigation has spread to England, where over the weekend police announced that two teenagers were in custody in connection with the clash. The teenagers are Akram’s sons, two US law enforcement officials told The Associated Press. Officials were not authorized to discuss the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.
On Tuesday, British police said the teenagers had been released without charge. They were held in Manchester, about 30 miles from Akram’s home town of Blackburn.
Akram’s family said he “suffers from mental health issues”.
Federal investigators believe Akram purchased the handgun used in the hostage crisis at a private sale, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity as the investigation is still ongoing. Classes.
Stengle reported from Dallas and Tucker reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Paul J. Weber and Acacia Coronado in Austin also contributed to this report; Michael Balsamo in Washington; and Danica Kirka and Sylvia Hui in London.