MI5 ‘dropped probe’ into Islamist terror links of Texas shul hostage-taker in 2020

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MI5 ‘dropped probe’ into Islamist terror links of Texas shul hostage-taker in 2020

Whitehall sources did not deny claims that British intelligence had conducted a probe into Malik Faisal Akram over extremist links as recently as the "second half of 2020."

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Malik Faisal Akram
Malik Faisal Akram

The British man responsible for carrying the Texas synagogue siege had been under investigation for possible Islamist terror links by MI5 agents during the past two years, reports have claimed.

Whitehall sources did not deny claims that British intelligence had conducted a probe into Malik Faisal Akram over extremist links as recently as the “second half of 2020.”

But the investigation, which was said to involve “mid level” concerns – was dropped after officers concluded that the Blackburn man had no obvious links to Islamist groups.

Akram was shot dead by an FBI rescue team after he took four hostages at the Beth Israel synasgogue in Collyville, Texas, including Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, during the Shabbat service last weekend.

The fact that MI5 failed to pick up any obvious threat after they looked in Akram, meant that no intelligence on his was passed to US authorities ahead of his flight out to the States, where he carried out the synagogue attack.

Questions remain unanswered on how he was able to travel to the US, because Akram’s family confirmed he had a criminal record over offences including a drug deal, violent disorder and driving offences.

The Daily Telegraph reported that in 2001 he was banned from his local court, where he was a regular in the dock, for turning up to abuse staff and ranting about 9/11.

He was pictured at demonstrations for Muslim prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and in support of Palestine.

He was a regular visitor to Pakistan and reportedly a member of the Tablighi Jamaat group, set up to ‘purify’ Islam and banned from Saudi after the kingdom described the group as a ‘gateway to terrorism’.

Arriving in the US, investigators are trying to establish whether he gave a false name on his tourist visa waiver, which meant he did not have to detail his criminal record.

Akram is alleged to have bought a gun, used in the hostage incident from someone on “the street” after arriving in New York.

He then travelled Texas and checked into a Christian homeless shelter, where it is claimed he was searched for weapons, and none were found.

He is also alleged to have given his correct name when taking a Covid test.

During the 11 hour long siege a live Facebook feed of the service confirmed Akram had referred to the hostages as “four beautiful Jews.”

At one stage he said he “liked” the rabbi, and later said they were “good people” at the synagogue because they had let him into the building.

But as the siege progressed Akram became visibly distressed.

Speaking to FBI agents, he had also demanded the release of jailed female terrorist Aafia Siddiqu – known as Lady Al Qaeda for attempting to kill US military personnel in Afghanistan – and that she be brought to the synagogue so they could both ‘die together’.

He referred to her as his “sister” during the attack even though the pair are not related. She is being held in a jail about 20 miles from Colleyville.

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