FBI statement on synagogue hostage crisis called ‘baffling’

by WorldTribune Staff, January 17, 2022

British national Malik Faisal Akram took four hostages at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas on Jan. 15. Akram died at the scene and none of the hostages were injured.

The terrorism incident occurred on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath. The FBI is being slammed for inexplicably declaring that the hostage taker’s demands were “not specifically related to the Jewish community.”

The gunman allegedly demanded the release of a Pakistani woman currently behind bars in Texas on charges of trying to kill members of the U.S. military in Afghanistan.

According to Fox News, “The FBI and Justice Department previously described the woman, Aafia Siddiqui, as an ‘Al Qaida operative and facilitator’ at a May 2004 news conference. She is serving an 86-year prison sentence after being convicted in 2010 on charges that she sought to shoot U.S. military members while in Afghanistan two year earlier. She has a history of anti-Semitism, including demanding that jurors in her case be DNA tested and removed ‘if they have a Zionist or Israeli background.’ ”

“We do believe from our engaging with this subject (Akram) that he was singularly focused on one issue, and it was not specifically related to the Jewish community. But we’re continuing to work to find motive,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Matt DeSarno said at a press conference.

The Jerusalem Post called DeSarno’s remarks “a truly baffling statement.”

The idea that any attack on a synagogue is “not specifically related to the Jewish community” is absurd enough.

Even with the broadest definition of who is considered Jewish, Jews make up only 2.4% of all American adults and only 0.6% of the population of Texas. It beggars belief, in most cases and in this one in particular, that someone outside the densest Jewish populations in America would have randomly stumbled upon a synagogue while looking for people to hold hostage.

Add to that the fact that the gunman entered Congregation Beth Israel on a Saturday morning, when Shabbat services are held. The timing was clearly intentional. …

We don’t know much about the hostage taker since the FBI is not releasing information. But we know that he targeted a synagogue to free a woman who did not hide her hatred of Jews. And we know a leading figure in the same organization that advocated Siddiqui’s cause put synagogues and other major Jewish organizations on a list of “enemies” who spark Islamophobia.

These seem like directions of inquiry the FBI ought to be taking seriously.

What more must it take for a crime to be viewed as “specifically related to the Jewish community?” What more needs to happen for antisemitic hate crimes to be viewed as such?

“The FBI is now an organization solely focused on destroying the domestic enemies of the Democratic Party,” conservative talk radio show Jesse Kelly tweeted Sunday morning. “Any Republican Congress or Presidential candidate who doesn’t loudly proclaim his intention to massively reform or disband this organization should not be considered.”

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