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FBI backtracks, now says Jewish community was targeted in synagogue hostage situation

Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has changed its story and now says that Saturday's synagogue 11-hour hostage situation in Colleyville, Texas, was an intended targeting of the Jewish community.

The FBI initially said that the incident — which left the hostage-taker dead — was not "specifically related to the Jewish community."

What are the details?

On Monday, CNN reported that the suspect, 44-year-old British national Malik Faisal Akram, "spoke repeatedly about a convicted terrorist who is serving an 86-year prison sentence in the United States."

Fox News host Shannon Bream tweeted the FBI's newest statement, which read, "This is a terrorism-related matter, in which the Jewish community was targeted, and is being investigated by the Joint Terrorism Task Force."

Following the incident, FBI Special Agent in Charge Matt DeSarno said, "We do believe from our engagement with this subject that he was singularly focused on one issue, and it was not specifically related to the Jewish community. But we’re continuing to work to find motive and we will continue on that path. In terms of the resolution of the incident, the hostage taker is deceased.”

Law enforcement on Saturday reported that at least four people — a Jewish rabbi and three synagogue congregants — were taken hostage at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville.

Previous reporting stated that the suspect claimed to be the brother of Aafia Siddiqui, a terrorist who is incarcerated at Fort Worth's Carswell Air Force Base. A judge in 2010 sentenced Siddiqui to 86 years in federal prison for conspiring to kill U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan.

Akram during the hostage situation reportedly demanded Siddiqui's freedom in exchange for the four lives.

One hostage was released shortly before 5 p.m. local time, while the other three hostages were freed as the FBI executed a strike on Akram, killing him.

CNN reported that British authorities arrested two Manchester, England, teenagers in connection with the Texas incident.

The unnamed teenagers are being held for questioning at the time of this reporting, and it is unknown what role they may have played in planning the attack.

What else is there to know about this?

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who was one of the hostages, said that the synagogue underwent "multiple security courses" in training to survive such incidents.

"In the last hour of our hostage crisis, the gunman became increasingly belligerent and threatening," Cytron-Walker said in a statement. "Without the instruction we received, we would not have been prepared to act and flee when the situation presented itself."

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