LONDON — British police said Wednesday they were holding two more men in connection with an armed hostage-taking incident at a Texas synagogue by a man from northwest England.
Malik Faisal Akram, 44, from Blackburn, was shot dead by the FBI after a 10-hour siege in the small town of Colleyville in mid-January. One of his four hostages was freed and the other three, including the rabbi of the congregation, escaped.
“As part of the local investigation, two men have been arrested this morning in Manchester,” the Counter Terrorism Policing force for northwest England said in a statement.
“They remain in custody for questioning.”
Police have also questioned three other men in Manchester, and another in the central English city of Birmingham.
Earlier this month, two men were arrested in Birmingham and Manchester, but have since been released with no further action, according to the BBC.
Akram had planned the attack for at least two years, wanting to die as a “martyr,” according to audio of the last phone call with his brother released by the London-based Jewish Chronicle newspaper.
The attack was staged in an apparent bid to win the release of Pakistani woman Aafia Siddiqui, known as “Lady Al-Qaeda,” who has been jailed for the attempted murder of US soldiers in Afghanistan.
Akram was reportedly investigated in 2020 by Britain’s domestic security agency MI5 after he spent six months in Pakistan.
But the probe was shut down after just over a month due to lack of evidence that he was a threat, and he was able to travel to the United States without being flagged as a risk.