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“If you are a Jew in America and you are not feeling unsettled then you are not paying attention”

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In her sermon the week after the Colleyville siege, Rabbi Angela Buchdahl warned: “I saw firsthand that you cannot negotiate with a terrorist… captivated by terrifying hateful ideologies, which they value more than their own lives.” (Screenshot: Central Synagogue YouTube)

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According to FBI sources, Islamic terrorist Malik Faisal Akram went online to search out a synagogue to take hostages at, and to choose which prominent rabbi to blackmail, in his goal of getting a Pakistani bio-terrorist known as ‘Lady al-Qaeda’ sprung from a military prison in Texas.

The Washington Post said investigators discovered that in the two weeks prior to taking hostages at Congregation Beth Israel on January 15, Akram not only identified who he would torment, he also looked for pawnshops and gun dealers in the area.

Akram came to focus on Rabbi Angela Buchdahl of Central Synagogue in New York City, who is a celebrity within the Reform movement as the world’s first Asian-American rabbi and who led a White House menorah lighting at a Chanukah celebration hosted by President Barack Obama in 2013. Akram, who believed Jews control world affairs, had convinced himself that Buchdahl could get US authorities to free convicted terrorist Aafia Siddiqui, serving an 86 year sentence after being convicted in 2010 of attempting to kill US soldiers in Afghanistan.

Investigators suspect his online searches for prominent rabbis led to his choosing Congregation Beth Israel, in the Dallas-Fort Worth suburb of Colleyville, as the place for his last stand. It was the closest synagogue to Siddiqui’s incarceration.

Akram embarked from England to NYC on Dec. 29 – telling his family he was going to get married – before flying to Dallas in his quest. After his three remaining hostages escaped, FBI agents stormed the shul and killed him. Akram was armed with a gun that was reported stolen from a hotel room in 2020. 

In recent years, Akram traveled numerous times from the UK to Tablighi Jamaat gatherings in Pakistan, a radicalized Muslim sect that is banned in many countries. After arriving in Texas, while carrying a backpack large enough to conceal a weapon, he attended prayers at the Islamic Center of Irving on Jan. 1. He asked if he could stay there overnight, according to a spokesman for the mosque.

When told regulations prevented it, an agitated Akram told staff, “You will be judged by God for not helping a fellow Muslim,” insisting “I’m from a good family.” When staff said they would call police to remove him, Akram left. Khalid Hamideh, lawyer for the mosque, said “God knows if he already had acquired the gun and already had the gun in there.” 

(Late on Wednesday, ABC News reported that Henry Williams, 32, faces one charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm, a Taurus G2C pistol, that he admitted selling to Akram at an intersection in South Dallas on Jan. 13, two days before the hostage incident. “Williams allegedly admitted to officers that Mr. Akram told him the gun was going to be used for ‘intimidation’ to get money from someone with an outstanding debt,” the Department of Justice said in a statement.) 

Around 6 a.m. the next day, Akram appeared and “apologized for his behavior on the previous night and asked for permission just to use the sanctuary to conduct his prayer.” Another Post story elaborated that “Over the next few days, Akram returned to the mosque at least once, possibly twice, wearing the same clothes he had on during his first visit, Hamideh said. Akram sat in on a halaqa, a session devoted to study of Koranic texts.”

He was driven by a man he evidently knew to OurCalling, a Christion mission for homeless people, where he stayed overnight on Jan. 2-3. Dallas TV station WFAA, quoting an official at the Union Gospel Mission’s Calvert Place, reported that Akram stayed at that shelter overnight Jan. 6-7, and again on Jan. 11-12. The next day, he bought the illegal pistol.

He told police negotiators he had been walking around for 16 hours “with my ammo” before knocking at Congregation Beth Israel during Sabbath services on Jan. 15.

But first, he went to Starbucks. 

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Washington Post reporters spoke with two baristas at the Starbucks location about a mile away, who served him around 8.40 AM that Saturday.

“One barista said she had trouble understanding (his accent) as he ordered a tall cappuccino” and he stood out “because he proceeded to sit at a corner table for somewhere between 30 minutes and an hour, staring at his phone and frequently looking around him. He ordered a second cappuccino; when he finished it, he hurried out.”

He arrived at Congregation Beth Israel by bicycle, a 4 minute ride from the Starbucks.

After being let in and served tea, Akram pulled the gun and took 4 hostages, one of whom he released after a few hours. Then – with a Facebook stream of the Shabbat service still running – came his rants about Jews, Israel, and America, and his demands that Siddiqui, herself a notorious Jew-hater, be set free.

“He mentioned (Rabbi Buchdahl) by name, because he knew that she played guitar… He thought that she was the most influential rabbi,” Beth Israel’s rabbi, Charlie Cytron-Walker, told an online forum hosted by the Anti-Defamation League last week.

Under duress, he phoned her about the demands and thankfully she replied to his voice message.

British Islamist ‘Faisal’ Akram quaffed two cappuccinos at a Colleyville Blvd. Starbucks before riding a bike to Congregation Beth Israel and seizing four hostages. (Image: Google maps)

Rabbi Buchdahl, who had two phone conversations with Akram during the hostage-taking, delivered a sermon last Friday night about the crisis. “He said, ‘I’m running out of patience, and you are running out of time.’ I had already talked to the authorities. I knew there was nothing else I could do but wait and pray.”

“If you are a Jew in America and you are not feeling unsettled,” Buchdahl said, “then you are not paying attention.”

She noted how “Rabbi Cytron-Walker’s kindness and humanity were used against him. He opened his doors to this man and gave him a cup of tea. This rabbi welcomes the stranger and this is his reward? We have to protect ourselves. We cannot be naive.”

“I’m unsettled because the world only has the most simplistic understanding of antisemitism” she continued. “If someone says they hate Jews, or they want to kill Jews, we call it antisemitism. But even educated people, the director of the FBI, do not recognize its far more insidious guise as the trope that Jews are all powerful and control everything. We saw how dangerous that age-old conspiracy theory can be.

Buchdahl stated: “I saw firsthand that you cannot negotiate with a terrorist. And more and more people in our country and around the globe are captivated by terrifying hateful ideologies, which they value more than their own lives… I heard the terrifying voice of radical extremism filtered through the mind of a deranged person who was able to get a gun and then hold people and an entire Jewish community hostage for 11 hours.

“I think of the ripple effects that this man set off and the countless resources that we will spend to prevent it from happening again.”

Determined to kill his Jewish hostages, Malik Faisal Akram was thwarted when a Rabbi slung a chair at him and they escaped. (Photo: UK police mugshot)

As the drama unfolded and thereafter, Akram’s relatives acknowledged his violent criminal past and claimed he had mental health problems. However a report in Thejc.com said Akram’s former GP confirmed that his medical records showed no such complaints. The newspaper said the GP told them that he found Akram to be “an intelligent man who had become extremist in terms of religious views”.

In contrast to how he presented to family and friends, “He came across as a confident man who didn’t need any mental help.”

In a previous Jewish Chronicle report, it was revealed that at a mosque meeting in Blackburn last May called to discuss the turmoil between Israel and Gaza, Akram declared that Jews should be “bombed.” An alarmed local councilor who heard it told the police, but was never again contacted. 

The BBC reported that MI5, Britain’s counterintelligence and security agency, investigated him as a “subject of interest” but decided he was not an immediate threat. This opened the door for him to fly to America and menace Jews observing the Sabbath.

 A loud minority – including far-left ‘progressive Jewish’ organizations and public figures – have tried to attribute his actions to his “illness” and downplay Akram’s antisemitic and religious motivations. (During the stand-off he told his brother Gulbar “they will never take another woman from a Muslim. I’m opening the door for every youngster to come to America to f**k with them.”)

And while many Muslim organizations, including those like CAIR which has also sought Siddiqui’s release, disavowed his terror rampage, Thejc noted one that did not:

“In the wake of the hostage-taking, the Blackburn Muslim Community Facebook group posted that it had prayed for “the Almighty” to “bless him with the highest ranks of Paradise”. The comment was subsequently deleted.

In a continuing antisemitic assault on truth and logic, numerous left-wing and Muslim activists lobbed a smokescreen, claiming that questions and investigations about how a violent antisemite took Jewish hostages in Texas would lead to “islamophobia” and that increased security at Jewish institutions was a threat to ‘Jews of color’. (Image: Twitter)

Between October to December, there were at least 10 antisemitic incidents in the Texas, according to the Anti-Defamation League, including students vandalizing a Austin school, an arson at the local Chabad synagogue, and a banner targeting Jewish people at a highway overpass in the city.

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) released a statement assailing an ADL article entitled “Extremists Respond to Colleyville Hostage Crisis with Antisemitism, Islamophobia,” which “spent only three sentences mentioning Islamist extremists (Al-Qaeda supporters and a British pro-ISIS Islamist preacher)… By contrast, ADL spent 56 sentences on white supremacists… and 12 sentences accusing experts on Islamic antisemitism of “elevating Islamophobia.”

Signed by ZOA National President Morton A. Klein and Director of Research & Special Projects Liz Berney, Esq., the missive challenged the cowardice of American leaders: “The FBI’s initial refusal to label this attack as antisemitic – claiming instead that the hostage-taking was “not specifically related to the Jewish community,” and President Biden’s remarks… that motive is still undetermined, are deeply troubling.

“Malik Faisal Akram specifically targeted a synagogue and Jewish hostages as part of his plan to release from prison his metaphysical “sister,” Pakistani Islamist, Jew-hater, and convicted terrorist Aafia Siddiqui, a.k.a. “Lady Al-Qaeda.” 

“It is obvious that when a terrorist makes antisemitic or anti-Israel comments, or defends a Jew-hater, and/or targets a synagogue, a Jewish institution, Jewish children or adults, or people mistakenly believed to be Jewish, it’s an antisemitic attack.”

See also:  How The Texas Synagogue Hostages Escaped From UK Islamist’s Trap

Beth Israel Member Says Mainstream Media Got Attack On Her Texas Synagogue Wrong

Marty Gold is the Editor-in -Chief of TheJ.ca. Known for investigative reporting, he has specialized in covering municipal and provincial politics, and a wide range of sports and entertainment, in newspapers, magazines, online, and on his first love, radio. His business and consulting experience includes live events and sales, workplace safety, documentary productions, PR, and telecommunications in Vancouver, Los Angeles and across Canada, and as a contestant on CBC-TV Dragons Den.

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

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