Home News Synagogue Members Held Hostage in Texas

Synagogue Members Held Hostage in Texas


by Jack Miller

On January 15th, the community of Colleyville, Texas faced a distressing threat to their peace. The congregation of Beth Israel Synagogue met for service that morning when an unknown man entered their midst. The worship service was being live-streamed and observers watched as a man, now identified as British citizen Malik Faisal Akram, started talking and acting sporadically. Akram then took four members of the congregation hostage, including the presiding Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, beginning a long day of fear, prayers, and negotiations.

Six hours into the incident, at 5 p.m., with the help of negotiations from Colleyville Police and federal officers, one hostage was released. The remaining three witnesses, including Cytron-Walker himself, reported that following this event, Akram became increasingly threatening and abusive. Around 9:30 p.m. the remaining three hostages managed to escape from the synagogue unharmed. Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker praised the congregations’ security courses taken to teach effective evacuation techniques and urges other communities to take the same steps to protect themselves.

FBI agents entered the synagogue following the situation and Akram was killed in the standoff. Authorities are now working in conjunction with British intelligence to learn more about Akram’s motives. As of right now, they have not found any information or criminal background on Akram, he was not a member of any watchlists and had entered the United States legally over a month prior to the situation. The United Kingdom’s Counter-Terrorism Police announced on Sunday that two teenagers have been arrested in South Manchester and are undergoing questioning for connections to the incident.

There is no evidence pointing to this being an ongoing threat, but authorities continue to investigate the hostage-taker and his contacts in the United Kingdom. Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker took to Facebook on Sunday morning expressing his gratitude for the larger community’s support as well Beth Israel members’ commitment to following safety protocols and keeping each other safe during this traumatic experience.