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FBI downplays religious connection of hostage crisis at Jewish synagogue. It does not end well.

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Brandon Bell/Getty Images

The FBI and Associated Press were slammed Saturday over a bizarre tweet from the AP addressing the hostage situation at the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in the Dallas-Fort Worth area on Saturday.

What did the FBI say?

After law enforcement announced the hostage-taker's death, the FBI seemingly downplayed the religious aspect of the crime.

"BREAKING: The FBI says the Texas synagogue hostage taker's demands were specifically focused on issue not connected to the Jewish community," the AP tweeted.

The AP quoted FBI Special Agent in Charge Matt DeSarno as the FBI official behind the remarks.

"DeSarno said the hostage taker was specifically focused on an issue not directly connected to the Jewish community and there was no immediate indication that the man had was part of any broader plan, but DeSarno said the agency’s investigation 'will have global reach,'" the news report said.

What was the reaction?

The AP's tweet immediately generated backlash for amplifying what DeSarno said. Critics questioned how law enforcement officials could arrive to such a conclusion when the investigation into the incident was in the earliest stages.

Others abruptly fact-checked the AP's tweet. In fact, despite attempts to downplay the religious aspect of the incident, the hostage-taker chose a synagogue on Sabbath where Jews were gathered and he allegedly demanded the release of a convicted terrorist known for being an adamant anti-Semite.

  • "I am sure the FBI will clean this up shortly, but until then, worth stating the obvious: The gunman did not travel thousands of miles to terrorize some Mormons. He sought out a synagogue and took it hostage over his grievances. That's targeting Jews, and there's a word for that," Yair Rosenberg said.
  • "[P]utting aside the absurdity of asking us to ignore the choice of venue, the choice of victims, that it was done on a Saturday specifically, and that it was apparently done on behalf of a rather outspoken anti-Semite ... this seems an unusually speedy determination by the FBI," Becket Adams said.
  • "A Muslim terrorist travels to a Synagogue on the Sabbath and takes a Rabbi and three other Jews hostage, while demanding the release of a convicted Antisemitic terrorist. Sorry @AP but I'm pretty sure that it's DIRECTLY connected to the Jewish community," one person observed.
  • "He was seeking the release of the virulent antisemite and convicted terrorist—Aafia Siddiqui. She blamed Jews for everything—likely he did too," Christina Sommers said.
  • "In a society where victimhood status confers prestige, it's very important that Jews never be seen as victims," one person observed.
  • "Islamic radical wandered into a synagogue in Texas by accident," David Harsanyi mocked.
  • "Yeah, the release of his sister who hates Jews and wants them dead. Feels like there might be some sort of connection there anyway," Noam Blum said.
  • "[O]h good I’m so glad to hear that a man who held four hostages in a synagogue for eleven hours after taking them during Shabbat services didn’t do it for any specific reason and this string of events was just a coincidence and not antisemitic at all. What a relief," another person mocked.
  • "Is this the same FBI that said the Bernie Bro who shot up the Republican baseball practice just chose a random field and had no political motives whatsoever?" one person mocked.

Fortunately, all hostages were released without injury. The suspect was killed, but law enforcement did not say who fired the fatal shot.

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