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Texas Hostage Taker Was Known to British Intelligence

todayJanuary 18, 2022

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LONDON — The British man who took four people hostage at a Texas synagogue over the weekend before being killed was known to British intelligence services, according to a U.S. official and British news media reports.

The man, whom the F.B.I. identified as Malik Faisal Akram, 44, had been on the watch list of Britain’s MI5 security service as a “subject of interest” in 2020, according to an American official briefed on the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is continuing.

But by the time he flew to the United States, he had been deemed to no longer be a risk, the BBC reported on Tuesday. The Guardian, citing government sources, reported that the investigation had taken place in the second half of 2020 and had been a midlevel one.

Mr. Akram, originally from the northern British town of Blackburn, had arrived in the United States just before the New Year, but much is still unknown about why he targeted the Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, during a Saturday morning service. Britain’s Home Office declined to comment on the case or confirm the BBC report.

Gulbar Akram, Mr. Akram’s brother, has described his sibling as mentally unwell and said he also had a criminal past and was known to the British police. He questioned how his brother had been allowed to enter the United States.

President Biden on Sunday called the attack an act of terrorism, and Liz Truss, Britain’s foreign secretary, said that Britain condemned the “act of terrorism and anti-semitism.”

Megan Specia reported from London, and Eileen Sullivan from Washington. Aina J. Khan contributed reporting from Bradford, England.

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todayJanuary 18, 2022