London, Jan 18 (PTI) The British hostage-taker shot dead by the FBI to end a siege at a synagogue in Texas was known to Britain’s secret service, according to UK media reports on Tuesday.
Malik Faisal Akram, 44, who demanded the release of Pakistani neuroscientist Afia Siddiqui suspected of ties with Al Qaeda, was on the radar of the MI5 intelligence service during the second half of 2020 to assess whether he posed a security threat after suspicion around Islamist terrorism had reportedly been flagged.
According to ‘The Times’, Akram was the subject of a “short lead investigation” for at least four weeks but the case was closed when spies assessed there was no indication that he presented a terrorist threat at that time.
Akram had also been in prison four times, between 1996 and 2012, for a range of offences, including violent disorder, harassment and theft. It emerged earlier that he had even been banned from a British court for ranting about the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York in 2001.
The Exclusion Order at Blackburn Magistrates’ Court was made under Section 12 of the UK’s Contempt of Court Act over 20 years ago.
However, by the time he travelled to the US in late December 2021, Akram was not on the UK Home Office warnings index, the watchlist that allows police at airports to intercept would-be passengers of concern. Sources told the newspaper that it would be “disproportionate” for someone assessed as being no threat to be on the list.
Akram was killed by the FBI after the siege at a synagogue in Colleyville, three miles from Dallas, Texas, on Saturday as he demanded the release of Siddiqui, dubbed “Lady Al Qaeda”.
Akram, whose family based in the UK say he had mental health problems, had stayed at homeless shelters before carrying out the siege. His arrival had raised no red flags in the US, where President Joe Biden declared the incident as a terror act. Biden said that Akram purchased the handgun used in the siege “on the street”.
Akram’s associates in Blackburn said he had quarrelled with his family after moving to a more conservative strand of Islam. They said Akram, who was estranged from his wife and had six children, had a temper and tried to impose his strict religious values on others. He had become increasingly religious, had distanced himself from his family and had taken to Wahhabism, a fundamentalist strain of Islam.
Two teenagers arrested in south Manchester in connection with the Texas siege are still being questioned by England’s North West Counter Terrorism Unit. PTI AK SCY SCY
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