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“Had asked for shelter”: US rabbi reveals details about hostage-takers

“Had asked for shelter”
US rabbi reveals details about hostage-takers

After the hostage-taking in a Texas synagogue, the rabbi tells of oppressive hours of fear. They managed to escape without police help. How and why the perpetrator was later killed, however, remains in the dark.

Two days after the hostage-taking in a synagogue in the US state of Texas, new details about the crime have become known. One of the hostages, Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, gave in one interview with the television station CBS insight into the dramatic hours with the hostage-taker and reported that he and the other detainees were able to free themselves in the end. When he saw an opportunity, he threw a chair at the perpetrator and fled with the other hostages, the rabbi said. They could have freed themselves “without a single shot being fired”.

A man – according to police a 44-year-old Briton – had taken Cytron-Walker and three other people hostage on Saturday at the synagogue in Colleyville near Dallas. A hostage was released early Saturday night. The other detainees were only released a few hours later. All four were unharmed. The perpetrator died. Originally it was said that special forces had entered the church and freed the hostages. So far, however, the police have not commented in detail on the circumstances surrounding the end of the hostage-taking and have also left it open how exactly the perpetrator died.

US media, citing investigators, had reported that the hostage-taker wanted to free a Pakistani scientist imprisoned in Texas, who had been convicted of attempting to murder US soldiers in Afghanistan in 2010. Cytron-Walker said the situation had deteriorated in the final hour of the kidnapping. The perpetrator did not get what he wanted. “It didn’t look good,” said the rabbi. “We were very afraid.” When the opportunity presented itself, they fled.

Two teenagers arrested in Manchester

According to the rabbi, the hostage-taker did not force his way into the synagogue. He knocked on a door and asked to be let in – probably on the pretext that he was looking for shelter. Cytron-Walker said he let the man in, made him some tea and chatted with him. At that moment he didn’t notice anything suspicious. Only during the service that followed, when he was standing with his back to the man, did he hear a click. “And it turned out that was his weapon.” The rabbi stressed that he and the other hostages were not physically injured. But the situation was very dangerous. “We’re still in the process of processing it.”

The Federal Police FBI has identified the hostage-taker as the British citizen Malik Faisal A. and, according to its own statements, has started investigations “with global reach” into the motive and possible contacts of the man. After the hostage-taking in Texas, the anti-terrorist police in Great Britain arrested two young men. The two teenagers were caught in the south of Manchester and are now being questioned, the responsible investigative authority said on Monday night via Twitter. Further details were not initially announced.

The Muslim Council of Britain mosque association said it assumed it was a Muslim and strongly condemned the act. A statement said the man’s family was “shocked and saddened” by the incident. The “Washington Post” reported, citing investigators, that the Colleyville kidnappers had traveled to the United States by plane at the end of December.

Biden calls the act an “act of terrorism”

US President Joe Biden said on Sunday that it is currently assumed that the man bought his guns unofficially. Contrary to what he himself said, he probably didn’t have any bombs with him. The man also spent a night in a homeless shelter. Biden described the act as an “act of terrorism”.

US media had reported, citing investigators, that the man wanted to secure the release of Pakistani scientist Aafia Siddiqui from a nearby prison in Texas. Siddiqui was arrested in Ghasni, Afghanistan, in July 2008 and sentenced by a US federal judge to 86 years in prison in 2010 for an attack on US soldiers in Afghanistan. Siddiqui had studied at one of the elite US universities. Later, US authorities added her name to a list of suspects linked to al-Qaeda terrorists.

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