People being held hostage inside a Texas synagogue were rescued Saturday night, Gov. Greg Abbott said, in the aftermath of a crisis that had lasted nearly 12 hours.
“Prayers were heard. All hostages are alive and safe,” Abbot tweeted.
Abbott sent his tweet just after what appeared to be heavy gunshots were heard from the synagogue, where authorities said a man held people captive while demanding the release of a Pakistani neuroscientist convicted of attempting the murder of Pakistani Army officers. United States in Afghanistan.
The hijacker was later pronounced dead, an agent told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. Details of the man’s rescue or death were not released at this time.
The FBI said the man was specifically focused on an issue not directly related to the Jewish community.
FBI Special Agent Matt DeSarno said there was no immediate indication the subject was part of any larger scheme, though the agency’s investigation “will be global in scope.”
At least four hostages were initially believed to be inside the synagogue, three agents told reporters on condition of anonymity. The Associated Press because they were not authorized to comment on an ongoing investigation.
Figure among hostages
The rabbi of the synagogue is believed to have been among the hostages, one of the officers said. An agent said the man claimed to be armed but authorities had not confirmed that situation.
The Colleyville Police Department reported that one hostage was released safely shortly after 5:00 p.m. Saturday. This person was expected to be reunited with his family and did not require medical attention.
Authorities continue to try to discern the precise motive for this attack. The kidnapper was heard demanding freedom from Aafia Siddiqui, a neuroscientist Pakistani who allegedly has ties to the Al Qaeda and was convicted of trying to kill US military officers when she was detained in Afghanistan, one of the police officers said.. The man said he wanted to talk to her, according to agents. Siddiqui is in a federal prison in Texas.
Agents said investigators have not positively identified the subject and cautioned that the information was based on preliminary investigations because the situation was developing rapidly.
A rabbi in New York City received a call from the rabbi believed to be held hostage at the synagogue demanding Sidddiqui’s release, one of the officers said. The rabbi in New York City reported the call to 911.
“We stand in solidarity with the Jewish community and pray that the police authorities can safely and quickly release the hostages. No cause serves as a justification or excuse for this crime.”
– Edward Ahmed Mitchell, deputy national director of Cair.
police show up
Police were the first to show up at the synagogue around 11 a.m. and people were cleared from the area shortly after, FBI Dallas spokeswoman Katie Chaumont said.
The services were being broadcast live on the synagogue’s Facebook page. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram newspaper reported that an angry man could be heard ranting and talking about religion at times on the live broadcast, but what was happening inside the synagogue could not be seen.
Shortly before 2:00 in the afternoon, the man said: “You must do something. I don’t want to see this person dead.” Moments later, the transmission cut off.. A spokesperson for the Meta company later confirmed that Facebook had removed the video.
Many people heard the kidnapper refer to Siddiqui as his “sister” on the live broadcast, but Faizan Syed, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Dallas Fort-Worth, Texas, told The Associated Press that Siddiqui’s brother Siddiqui, Mohammad Siddiqui, was not involved. Syed noted that the council’s support and prayers are with those held in the synagogue.
See the live broadcast
Texas resident Victoria Francis told the AP that she watched the live feed for about an hour before it was cut off. He said he heard the man rail against the United States and claim he had a bomb.
“I rambled too much. He was very angry and the angrier he got the more threats he made, like ‘I’m the bomb guy. If they make a mistake, this is cult pusa’. And he laughed at it.” “His great anguish was evident.”
Francis, who grew up near Colleyville, he looked up the broadcast after reading about the hostage situation. He said it sounded like the man was on the phone with the police department, while the rabbi and another person were trying to help with negotiations..
Colleyville, a community of about 26,000 people, is located about 15 miles (23 kilometers) northeast of Fort Worth. The synagogue sits among several houses in a tree-lined neighborhood that has several churches, an elementary and middle school, and a horse farm.
Beth Israel Congregation is led by Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who has been there since 2006 as the site’s first full-time rabbi.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted late Saturday that President Joe Biden was already aware of the incident and was being updated by senior officials.
Follow the situation closely
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said he was closely monitoring the situation. “We are praying for the safety of the hostages and those who have come to their rescue,” he wrote on Twitter.
The Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the country’s largest Muslim activist group, condemned the attack.
“This latest anti-Semitic attack on a house of worship is an unacceptable act of evil, Cair Deputy National Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell said in a statement. “We stand in solidarity with the Jewish community and pray that the police authorities can safely and quickly release the hostages. No cause serves as a justification or excuse for this crime.”
Siddiqui, a neuroscientist Pakistani with graduate degrees from the University of Brandeis and the Technological Institute of Massachusetts, was sentenced in 2010 to 86 years in prison on charges of assaulting and shooting United States Army officers after she was arrested in Afghanistan two years earlier.
The conviction sparked anger in Pakistan among political leaders and her supporters, who viewed her as a victim of the US criminal justice system.
Since then, the Pakistani authorities have expressed interest in any type of agreement or exchange that could result in the release of the neuroscientist.