UK Foreign Office confirms Texas shul hostage-taker was British citizen
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Texas hostage-taking

UK Foreign Office confirms Texas shul hostage-taker was British citizen

Spokesperson said it wa 'aware of the death of a British man in Texas and are in contact with the local authorities'

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

Police were stationed outside the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas (Photo: Twitter)
Police were stationed outside the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas (Photo: Twitter)

The British Foreign Office has confirmed that the man who took hostages at a Texas synagogue on Saturday — and was then shot dead by police — was a British citizen. His identity has not yet been released by American authorities.

Four members of the Beth Israel Reform congregation in Colleyville, not far from Dallas-Fort Worth airport, including its rabbi, Charlie Cytron-Walker, were held at bay during a Shabbat service which was live-streamed as part of the synagogue’s response to Covid-19. Services at Beth Israel were routinely on-line as well as allowing congregants to be physically present in the synagogue.

The rabbi is understood to have been leading the service as normal when a man entered the building and began shouting that he wanted to free his “sister”, Aafia Siddiqui, who is an in-law of the chief architect of 9/11 and who herself is serving an 86-year prison sentence for attempted murder.

Rabbi Cytron-Walker was forced to make contact with a rabbinical colleague in New York during the 11-hour siege — apparently with a view to persuading the local authorities to release Siddiqui.

As the disruption continued to be transmitted on Facebook, those following insisted that they could hear a British Pakistani accent. Meanwhile those associated with Siddiqui said the man was not her brother, though this has not been confirmed.

Towards the end of the congregants’ ordeal, one of the hostages was let out of the building. A SWAT team stormed the synagogue and the Texas governor, Gregg Abbott, announced that the crisis was over.

A Foreign Office spokesman told Sky News that Britain was “aware of the death of a British man in Texas and are in contact with the local authorities”.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan commented, he is “relieved that all the hostages at the Beth Israel Synagogue in Texas have been safely rescued. A synagogue should always be a sanctuary—a place where people feel safe to worship and practise their faith in peace.”

“I want to reassure the Jewish community in London that we will continue to take a zero tolerance approach to antisemitism and do everything we can to protect Jewish Londoners across our city.”

 

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