The Governor says all hostages have been released and are safe at the Texas synagogue.
According to Texas Governor Greg Abbott, the hostage crisis at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, has been resolved.
“Prayers have been answered.” All of the hostages are alive and well. ” About 20 minutes after a huge explosion and gunshots were reported in the direction of the synagogue, Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted.
The suspect’s whereabouts are unknown.
A suspect entered Congregation Beth Israel as the synagogue was livestreaming its Sabbath morning service on Facebook, prompting the resolution more than 10 hours later. Before it was taken down, the livestream seemed to record some of the event. According to CNN, law enforcement officers analyzed the broadcast and utilized it to collect information about the event and the people involved.
Investigators suspect the hostage taker was motivated by a desire to free Aafia Siddiqui, who is serving an 86-year term in a Texas prison, according to two law enforcement officials. In 2010, she was found guilty of seven crimes, including attempted murder and an armed attack against American police in Afghanistan.
According to a law enforcement person involved with the inquiry, there were four captives at the synagogue in Colleyville, just outside of Fort Worth, including a rabbi. Colleyville Police Sgt. Dara Nelson reported one hostage had been freed many hours into the incident.
Nelson said that no injuries had been recorded at the time.
According to Nelson, FBI negotiators were in touch with the suspect.
The suspect reportedly desired Siddiqui’s release.
Based on conversations with the suspect and audio recorded on the synagogue’s livestream, officials think the suspect wanted Siddiqui freed.
Siddiqui’s lawyer claimed Saturday that “she had absolutely no participation in” the hostage-taking at the synagogue and that the offender was not Siddiqui’s brother.
“She would not want any violence committed against anybody, particularly in her name,” Marwa Elbially told CNN over the phone. “Clearly, it has nothing to do with Dr. Siddiqui and her family.”
“Whoever the attacker is, we want him to know that Dr. Aafia and her family reject his acts,” Elbially stated. “We beg you to free the prisoners and surrender immediately.”
According to two sources familiar with the investigation, the rabbi of the congregation being held hostage called a well-known rabbi in New York City at the request of the hostage-taker.
The FBI questioned the rabbi from New York City who had spoken with the hostage taker earlier in the day on Saturday. According to investigators, the hostage taker, who has no link to the rabbi, informed her that Siddiqi was framed and that he wanted her freed.
Stacey Silverman, a member of the congregation, said she sat for more than an hour watching the livestream, listening to the suspect yell, at times jumping between declaring “I’m not a criminal” and apologizing for the situation. She added that the guy was switching between languages and “screaming hysterically.”
“I was expecting a gunshot at any minute,” Silverman said, adding that the suspect claimed to carry a bomb.
Congregation Beth Israel is a member of the Union for Reform Judaism, and according to their website, they serve 157 families.
According to CBI’s website, the synagogue was founded in 1999 with 25 member families and was the first Jewish congregation in Northeast Tarrant County. In 2005, the CBI community celebrated the completion of its own new building.
Every Saturday morning, CBI hosts Sabbath morning services, and members and non-members alike are invited to watch from home via livestream, a practice that many synagogues have embraced in the aftermath of the plague.
Aafia Siddiqui, who is she?
Following a 14-day trial, Siddiqui was sentenced to 86 years in prison by a federal court in New York in 2010. A jury convicted her of attempted murder and assault against US officers and workers, as well as attempted murder of US citizens and government employees.
According to a federal indictment, Siddiqui, a Pakistani scientist who graduated from MIT and earned a doctorate from Brandeis University, was detained by the Afghan National Police in 2008 for questioning after they discovered handwritten notes referring to potential targets of a “mass casualty attack.”
Prosecutors claim she was able to steal a US soldier’s weapon and open fire on the interrogation team when they sought to talk with her, although no one was injured.
At her sentencing, the court ruled that a terrorism enhancement applied to her offenses, noting words she made, such as “I detest Americans” and “Death to America,” that the judge felt proved her acts and desire to retaliate against the US government.
The defense maintained that Siddiqui was incapable of standing trial. On the other hand, she argued with her counsel on many occasions, telling the court during her sentence, “If someone thinks it’s because of my paranoia or whatever, they’re wrong. I’m not crazy. I’m not mentally ill in any way. That does not sit well with me. ” She also indicated that she believes Israel was the “mastermind” behind 9/11.
Protests in the United States and abroad have been frequent in response to her conviction. The Aafia Foundation, a nonprofit named after her, has staged several protests. Last year, she was allegedly abused in jail, according to that group.
In interviews with CNN, her family has said that she is not a terrorist.
During a catastrophic hostage situation in Algeria in 2013, a terrorist group’s spokesman promised to free hostages if Siddiqui and Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, the architect of the 1993 World Trade Center assault, were both released from US prisons. Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman has since died in jail.
Siddiqui is being imprisoned in a medical facility attached to a federal prison in Fort Worth with a 60-year release date set.