DALLAS, Texas – According to local and federal law enforcement sources, all hostages have been freed safely from a temple in the Dallas-Fort Worth area after a more than 10-hour standoff, and the individual responsible is dead.
At about 10:41 a.m. Saturday, a group of four persons, including the rabbi, were kidnapped from Congregation Beth Israel, a Reform synagogue in Colleyville, about 30 miles northwest of Dallas.
Officials stated the hostages were taken by a man demanding the release of a federal prisoner in North Texas who was convicted of attempted murder in a terrorism-related case in 2010.
One of the hostages was released just after 5 p.m., and FBI crisis negotiators spoke with the hostage-taker in the synagogue late Saturday night.
According to Colleyville Police Chief Michael C. Miller, the FBI’s hostage rescue team broke into the synagogue at 9 p.m. and rescued the captives.
According to Miller, the suspect, whose identity has not been revealed, has died. Officials did not mention how the man died.
‘This was an act of terror,’ President Biden said of the hostage-taking at a Texas synagogue.
“We’re aware of the death of a British guy in Texas and are in touch with the local authorities,” a spokeswoman for Britain’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said in a statement issued Sunday. He didn’t pinpoint whether he was talking about the suspect.
Officials stated the captives, all of whom were adults, were not physically harmed and did not require medical treatment.
“Prayers have been answered. “All hostages are alive and well,” declared Texas Governor Greg Abbott in a tweet.
The hostage-taker was supposed to be “singularly focused on one subject and it was not especially tied to the Jewish community,” according to FBI Dallas special agent in charge Matthew DeSarno.
He didn’t provide any further detail but stated there was no evidence of an ongoing threat and that an investigation with “global reach” would be carried out.
In 2010, Aafia Siddiqui was convicted of two counts of attempted murder for attempting to murder Americans while imprisoned in Afghanistan. FBI photo courtesy of AP
Three law enforcement officials briefed on the issue told authorities that he wanted Aafia Siddiqui released from a federal jail. They further said that the hostage-taker had the rabbi in Colleyville contact a rabbi in New York City to inform him that he was being held hostage and wanted his “sister” Siddiqui released.
Siddiqui, 49, was found guilty by a federal jury in 2010 of attempting to assassinate US officers in Afghanistan and is currently being imprisoned at FMC Carswell, a federal prison in Fort Worth.
On Saturday, counterterrorism squads from the New York City Police Department visited the synagogue connected to the New York rabbi who got the call.
According to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Siddiqui’s brother was not the hostage-taker in the synagogue.
In a statement, John Floyd, board chair of CAIR Houston and longtime legal counsel for Siddiqui’s brother, stated his client is not responsible for the incident, is not near Dallas-Fort Worth, and the hostage-taker has no connection to Siddiqui.
Floyd stated in a statement, “We want the assailant to know that his acts are wicked and directly harm those of us who are pursuing justice for Dr. Aafia.”
Edward Ahmed Mitchell, CAIR’s national deputy director, issued a statement condemning the scenario as “an unforgivable act of wickedness.”
When police received the first disturbance call Saturday morning, how many people were inside the synagogue was unknown.
A guy could be heard commenting on a Facebook live stream during the congregation’s Shabbat morning service, cussing and sounding enraged at points.
The footage was taken down since it didn’t show what was happening inside the building.
Officials began receiving reports that a “gunman” had entered the synagogue and held four people hostage, according to Miller, the Colleyville police chief. Local officials responded and ordered the evacuation of surrounding residences.
DeSarno, the FBI’s special agent in charge, said hostage negotiators had been in contact with the man for a long time and attributed their efforts, as well as the efforts of approximately 200 states, federal, and local law enforcement agents, with the resolution.
As the situation unfolded, law enforcement agencies from across the state, including the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, as well as the FBI’s Dallas field office and the agency’s hostage rescue team based in Quantico, Virginia, descended on Colleyville.
Miller stated Saturday night that the congregation’s rabbi is a close friend and that the matter was extremely personal for him. He went on to say that he found optimism in the community’s response to the catastrophe.
Several government leaders and faith-based organizations joined in. President Joe Biden, Attorney General Merrick Garland, US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides, and Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett stated they monitored the situation and expressed optimism for a peaceful resolution.
Late Saturday night, Biden expressed his gratitude to those who labored to return the four captives to their families.
“We’ll discover more about the hostage-motivations taker’s in the days ahead,” Biden added. “But let me be clear: we will fight antisemitism and the growth of extremism in this country. That is who we are, and tonight’s law enforcement officers made us all proud.”
According to its website, Congregation Beth Israel was founded in 1998 as a chavurah or a small group of Jewish people who congregate for prayer services. In July 1999, the group erected a synagogue in Colleyville, and services began there in 2005.
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