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UK’s Johnson calls Texas attack an ‘antisemitic act of terrorism’

Britain vows ‘full support’ for US investigators after it emerges that captor Malik Faisal Akram, who was killed in the incident, was a UK citizen

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson records an address to the nation at Downing Street, London, to provide an update on the booster vaccine program, December 12, 2021. (Kirsty O'Connor, Pool via AP)
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson records an address to the nation at Downing Street, London, to provide an update on the booster vaccine program, December 12, 2021. (Kirsty O'Connor, Pool via AP)

Britain on Monday promised “full support” to US investigators after it emerged that the man behind a hostage incident at a Texas synagogue on Saturday was a British citizen.

“This was a terrible and antisemitic act of terrorism,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman told journalists after the attack, during which British captor Malik Faisal Akram was killed.

British police arrested two teenagers in Manchester in connection with Saturday’s 10-hour siege at Congregation Beth Israel in the small Texan town of Colleyville that ended with the four hostages unharmed.

According to NBC News, a senior law enforcement official identified the two as Akram’s sons. The pair were reportedly in touch with their father during the incident and have been detained for questioning.

The Muslim Council of Britain called the attack “completely unacceptable and we condemn the action in the strongest possible terms.”

“The act is all the more reprehensible since it was instigated at a place of worship where Jews were targeted,” the Council’s Secretary General Zara Mohammed said. “This was, quite simply, a hate crime and an act of antisemitism. We are thankful that the hostages are unharmed. Though some may seek to exploit such incidents for divisive ends, we must double our resolve to remain united against such hatred.”

Law enforcement officials gather at Colleyville Elementary School near the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022 in Colleyville, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

On Sunday, US President Joe Biden called the weekend hostage crisis an “act of terror.”

“This was an act of terror… and not only was related to someone who had been arrested… 15 years ago and had been in jail for 10 years,” Biden said, referring to Akram’s demand during the hostage crisis that US authorities release Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani national imprisoned at Carswell Air Force Base, roughly 15 miles southwest of Colleyville.

“I don’t have all the facts, but allegedly… he got the weapons on the street, he purchased them when he landed,” Biden said, adding that it was currently hard to tell from whom Akram purchased the weapons.

Biden said he told Attorney General Merrick Garland “that we’re not going to tolerate” such attacks on synagogues and other places of worship and that US authorities have the capacity to deal with “the antisemitism that is going up.”

Jacob Magid contributed to this report.

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