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18 Jan, 2022 14:05

Texas synagogue hostage-taker known to MI5 – reports

MI5 reportedly closed an investigation lasting “four weeks” into Malik Faisal Akram, allowing him to travel to the US and purchase a gun
Texas synagogue hostage-taker known to MI5 – reports

The 44-year-old British man who held hostages at a Texas synagogue on Saturday is reported to have been ruled to not be a threat after a “mid-level” four-week long investigation in 2020 by the UK's domestic MI5 spy agency.

Malik Faisal Akram, 44, was shot dead by police after interrupting a service at a synagogue on Saturday and holding people hostage during a 10-hour standoff. The incident was quickly decried by US President Joe Biden, who called it an “act of terror,” and the UK government, which condemned “those who spread hate.”

British citizen Akram, who was from Blackburn in the north of England, was named by the FBI as the hostage-taker and the UK Counter Terrorism Police are aiding the US-led investigation.

MI5 had previously conducted a “mid-level” investigation into Akram, which took place “over four weeks,” before concluding that he did not pose a terror risk and there was no need to restrict his ability to travel abroad, according to British media citing government sources. 

As the investigation was reportedly completed and Akram was listed as a closed subject of interest on MI5 records, the UK is believed to have not provided information of concern to US authorities before the hostage situation took place.

He was able to travel to the US and purchase a firearm prior to the incident at the synagogue. It has been reported in the wake of the hostage scenario that Akram had a criminal record in the UK, but none of those were for terrorism convictions. 

In a now-deleted post on the Blackburn Muslim Community’s Facebook page, Akram’s brother claimed he had suffered from mental health issues. On Monday, UK Home Secretary Priti Patel publicly offered the “full support” of British authorities in the investigation.