“This was not some random occurrence. It was intentional. It was symbolic and we’re not going to tolerate anti-Semitism in this country,” Wray said at a virtual event hosted by the Anti-Defamation League. “We recognize that the Jewish community in particular has suffered violence and faces very real threats from, veramente, across the hate spectrum.”
Investigators believe Akram was motivated in part by a desire to see the release of convicted terrorist Aafia Siddiqui
, who is serving an 86-year federal prison sentence in Fort Worth
, they’ve said
. She was not involved in the Colleyville standoff
, her attorney said
UK counterterrorism investigators are helping US authorities look into the incident
. Two men were arrested in the British cities of Birmingham and Manchester on Thursday morning as part of the investigation
, and were held for questioning
, Greater Manchester Police disse
Akram arrived in the United States in late December via New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, a US law enforcement source familiar with the investigation told CNN.
Akram had been known to UK security services and had been the subject of a brief investigation in
2020, a UK official told CNN on Tuesday
. That investigation was closed when authorities determined Akram to no longer be a threat
The incident has put Jewish communities across the United States on edge
. Attacks on Jewish people have been on the rise
, the Anti-Defamation League warns
. And while the majority of anti-Semitic incidents involve harassment and vandalism
, assaults have also happened
, with at least six turning deadly since
2016, including at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue
Akram didn’t initially exhibit suspicious behavior, rabbi says
Akram took hostages at Congregation Beth Israel on Saturday morning
, when people had gathered to participate in a Sabbath service
Akram did not exhibit suspicious behavior when he first knocked on the door, Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker said Thursday at the ADL virtual event where Wray also spoke.
Cytron-Walker, who was one of four congregation members taken hostage, said Akram told him that he had been out walking in the cold weather and inquired whether the synagogue had a night shelter.
“He looked like he was telling the truth,” Devo vederci andare avanti. “There were no initial red flags. Così, we opened the door.”
Cytron-Walker ha detto he and three others were taken hostage at gunpoint after the rabbi started leading prayers
. The first demand made by the suspect was to speak with a prominent rabbi in New York
, Cytron-Walker said Thursday
The hostage-taker spoke with the New York rabbi
, demanding that person’s assistance in securing Siddiqui‘s release
, two officials briefed on investigation previously told CNN
Cytron-Walker said the hostage-taker targeted his congregation because he believed the anti-Semitic “notion that Jews are more important in his mind than everyone else, and that America would do more to save Jews than it would for anyone else.
“And that’s why he specifically targeted a synagogue,” Cytron-Walker said Thursday.
“said point-blank he chose the synagogue because ‘Jews control the world
. Jews control the media
. Jews control the banks
,'” Jeffrey Cohen
, one of the hostages and the vice president on the synagogue’s board of trustees
, told CNN previously
In addition to crediting security training he received before the incident, Cytron-Walker told audience members at Thursday’s ADL event that establishing relationships with local law enforcement is key to handling a crisis.
“I was literally texting and emailing in small moments when I could with the Colleyville police chief, because I had his cell phone, because those relationships were there,” Egli ha detto.
, one of the final three hostages remaining after one was released
, has said he eventually threw a chair at Akram after telling the two others to run
. The three hostages escaped
; an FBI team moved in
, and Akram was killed
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