“International” investigation after a hostage-taking in a synagogue in Texas



US authorities on Sunday launched an “international scope” investigation into the man who died the day before after holding several people hostage at a Texas synagogue, claiming, according to initial reports, the release of a Pakistani woman nicknamed “Lady Al-Qaeda”.

The four hostages, including a respected local rabbi, Charlie Cytron-Walker, were all released unharmed on Saturday evening, prompting relief in the United States, where the Jewish community and President Joe Biden have renewed calls to fight anti-Semitism, but also in Israel, where the tragedy has been closely followed.

The hostage-taking ended with a police intervention, a loud bang and gunshots in the Beth Israel Congregation synagogue in Colleyville, a town of about 23,000 people about 40 miles from Dallas. And by the death of the suspect — it is not known at this stage whether he committed suicide or was shot dead by law enforcement.

The kidnapper has been identified , but authorities have not released his name.

Media reported that he was of British nationality. “We are aware of the death of a British man in Texas and we are in contact with the local authorities”, was limited to saying in London the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, without going so far as to confirm that he was acted well of the suspect.

“We will investigate the hostage taker and his contacts”, during an investigation “of international scope”, declared in the night from Saturday to Sunday Matt DeSarno, a special agent of the FBI, the American federal police.

According to several American media, this man demanded in particular the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani scientist sentenced in 2010 by a federal court in New York to 86 years in prison for having tried to shoot American soldiers while she was detained in prison. Afghanistan.

Aafia Siddiqui is currently being held in a prison-hospital in Fort Worth, near Dallas. Jihadist movements had in the past called for his release.

She was the first woman to be suspected by the United States of links with Al-Qaida, the Islamist network responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and against the Pentagon, which earned her the nickname “Lady Al -Qaeda.”

She “is absolutely not involved” in the hostage-taking, however, assured CNN in a statement to her lawyer. She confirmed that the man was not her client's brother and that the latter condemned his actions.

“I am going to die”

Experts, for their part, pointed out that the word used by the man in Arabic was figurative and meant “sister” in the Islamic faith.

This claim has not yet been officially confirmed by the authorities, who also did not say if the man was armed and if he planted bombs in the synagogue. 

Adding to the spectacularity of the hostage-taking, a Facebook live broadcast of the church service was in progress when the kidnapper burst in, and continued for some time.

“ There is something wrong with America”, launched this man, according to this retransmission followed by AFP before its interruption.

“I am going to die”, he said. also said, repeatedly asking an unidentified caller that “his sister” be on the phone to him.

Officer DeSarno did not expand on the suspect's motives, explaining only that based on lengthy, tense negotiations with law enforcement, he did not appear to want to specifically threaten the Jewish community.

President Biden nonetheless pledged in a statement to “address the anti-Semitism and the rise of extremism in the country”, commending the work of the security forces.

“This event is a stark reminder that the anti-Semitism is still alive and that we must continue to fight it around the world,” Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett tweeted.

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