Hostages safe after US synagogue standoff
Texas Goveror Greg Abbott has tweeted that all hostages are safe after a standoff inside a Dallas-area synagogue.
“Prayers answered. All hostages are out alive and safe,” Abbott tweeted Saturday night.
Abbott’s tweet came not long after a loud bang and what sounded like gunfire was heard coming from the synagogue. Details of the rescue were not immediately clear.
A man took hostages on Saturday during services at a Texas synagogue where he could be heard ranting in a livestream and demanding the release of a Pakistani neuroscientist who was convicted of trying to kill US Army officers in Afghanistan.
At least four hostages were initially believed to be inside the synagogue, according to three law enforcement officials. The synagogue’s rabbi was believed to be among the hostages, one of the officials said.
The Colleyville Police Department said one hostage was released uninjured shortly after 5 pm Saturday. The man was expected to be reunited with his family and did not require medical attention.
Authorities are still trying to discern a precise motive for the attack. The hostage-taker was heard demanding the release of Aafia Siddiqui, the Pakistani neuroscientist suspected of having ties to al-Qaida, the officials said. He also said he wanted to be able to speak with her, according to the officials. Siddiqui is in federal prison in Texas.
Police were first called to the synagogue around 11 am and people were evacuated from the surrounding neighbourhood soon after that.
The services were being livestreamed on the synagogue’s Facebook page for a time. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that an angry man could be heard ranting and talking about religion at times during the livestream, which didn’t show what was happening inside the synagogue.
Shortly before 2 pm, the man said, “You got to do something. I don’t want to see this guy dead.” Moments later, the feed cut out. A Meta company spokesperson later confirmed that Facebook removed the video.
Multiple people heard the hostage-taker refer to Siddiqui as his “sister” on the livestream, but Faizan Syed, the executive director of Council on American-Islamic Relations in Dallas Fort-Worth Texas, told The Associated Press that Siddiqui’s brother, Mohammad Siddiqui, was not involved. Syed said CAIR’s support and prayers were with the people being held in the synagogue.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki tweeted Saturday evening that President Joe Biden had been briefed and was receiving updates from senior officials.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said he was monitoring the situation closely. “We pray for the safety of the hostages and rescuers,” he wrote on Twitter.
CAIR, the nation’s largest Muslim advocacy group, condemned the attack Saturday.
“This latest antisemitic attack at a house of worship is an unacceptable act of evil,” CAIR National Deputy Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell said in a statement. “We stand in solidarity with the Jewish community, and we pray that law enforcement authorities are able to swiftly and safely free the hostages. No cause can justify or excuse this crime.”AP