FBI probes possible contacts of Texas synagogue terrorist

Texas synagogue terrorist Malik Faisal Akram was ‘dropped off at Dallas homeless shelter by a man who hugged him’: Photo shows attacker days before hostage crisis as FBI probe his possible contacts in the US

  • Malik Faisal Akram had stayed at Dallas homeless shelters for about two weeks
  • Pastor says he was dropped off by man who hugged him on January 2
  • FBI have been alerted and are now tracing Akram’s potential contacts in the US
  • The British citizen arrived in the US earlier this month before siege on Saturday 

The FBI has been alerted to a possible contact of the Texas synagogue terrorist, as a new photo emerges of the attacker taken just days before the hostage crisis. 

Malik Faisal Akram, 44, had stayed at Dallas-area homeless shelters for about two weeks before taking four people and a rabbi hostage in a 10-hour siege on Saturday, ending in his death in a police shooting.

Wayne Walker, CEO and pastor of OurCalling, which provides services to homeless people, said that Akram stayed at their downtown Dallas facility on January 2, and their review of camera footage showed he was dropped off by someone who hugged him.

‘So he was dropped off by somebody that looked like he had a relationship with him,’ said Walker. 

‘He was dropped off by a guy who actually had some conversations with him outside and actually brought him in to our facility, had some more conversations with him inside,’ Walker said. 

‘And then before he left, they gave each other long hugs like they were long lost friends and patted each other on the back before the one took off.’

Walker said his ministry had contacted the FBI and gave them access to their photos and video. One photo shows Akram on January 2, days before the attack. 

A new image emerged of Akram tonight, taken at an outreach centre in Dallas – around three miles from the site of the attack in Colleyville – just days before he took hostages

Police are piecing together the terrorist’s final movements after arriving at JFK airport by January 2 before staying in a homeless hostel run by a Christian charity before launching the attack on January 15 

Akram, a British citizen from Blackburn, was the subject of a ‘short lead investigation’ – effectively chasing a tip-off – by British domestic intelligence service MI5 for a least four weeks at the end of 2020, it emerged on Tuesday.  

While there were concerns about Akram’s activities, MI5 deemed there was no sign he presented an imminent threat and the case was closed before tactics such as eavesdropping were deployed, according to the Times.

Indeed he wasn’t on the Home Office warnings index – a watchlist used by airport police to intercept potential passengers of concern – when he travelled across the Atlantic late last year.

It would be ‘disproportionate’ to place someone who was assessed as not being a threat on such a list, sources told the paper. 

It comes as a new image emerged of Akram tonight, taken at an outreach centre in Dallas – around three miles from the site of the attack in Colleyville – just days before he took hostages.

Wayne Walker, chief executive at the shelter, Our Calling, said Akram was hugged by a man who dropped him off there on January 2.

Meanwhile, police in the UK have released two teenagers who they arrested as part of their inquiry into the attack without charge.

The youngsters, who are believed to be under the age of 18, and cannot be identified for legal reasons, were detained in South Manchester on Sunday.

Synagogue terrorist Malik Faisal Akram is arrested outside his Blackburn home and bundled into a police van in 2016

Akram was arrested in Blackburn in 2016 after refusing to pay his landlord any rent. Police vans are pictured at the scene

A Texas Synagogue hostage flees, watched by a SWAT team officer perched in an armoured car

Blackburn terrorist was on call with his children when he was shot dead by a SWAT team, his family claims

Father-of-six Malik Faisal Akram was speaking to his children when he was gunned down in a Texan synagogue, it was claimed today. 

His younger sibling Gulbar has said they are now trying to get his body home for a funeral – but that he will have been riddled with bullets.

Gulbar told Sky News said his brother was on the phone with his children when he was shot: ‘Why did they have to kill him? They didn’t need to do that’. Many relatives had been called into a Blackburn police station to convince him to give himself up, but they were unable to.  

Gulbar said: ‘When we bring my brother’s body back, I’m expecting there to be 10 or 12 gunshot wounds in him’, adding he ‘should never have been able to get through immigration. Someone helped him. He shouldn’t have been able to board a plane without any stringent checks’.

Police chiefs said officers remain in constant contact with US authorities to support them with their investigation and continue to lead a local investigation, with an address in North Manchester having been searched.  

Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Dominic Scally, of Counter Terrorism Policing North West, said: ‘CTP North West is continuing to assist with the investigation which is being led by US authorities. 

‘Overnight, constructive meetings with colleagues from the United States have taken place.

‘As part of our enquiries, we’re also working with colleagues in other forces and Lancashire Police are working with communities in the Blackburn area to put measures in place to provide reassurance.’ 

It comes as further pictures emerged today of the moment Akram was arrested outside his Blackburn home and bundled into a police van after refusing to pay his landlord any rent.

The terrorist was held by officers where he lived in a quiet cul-de-sac because he wouldn’t let bailiffs into the property where he lived with his wife and six children.

Residents have described career criminal Akram as the ‘neighbour from hell’ who made their lives a misery with his anti-social and threatening behaviour before he is believed to have left 18 months ago and moved to Manchester.

MailOnline can reveal that police visited Akram’s former home twice in the last two months looking for the terrorist.

Just before Christmas Lancashire Police called at the house looking for him, but didn’t disclose why. They returned earlier this month looking for Malik’s teenage son, amid concerns for his whereabouts.

The image of Akram being arrested in 2016 came after he hurled abuse at workmen who were trying to install new gas and electricity meters inside the house and stopped them from getting in.

He had failed to pay his rent and reportedly caused £10,000 worth of damage when he was finally evicted.

A neighbour who asked not to be named told MailOnline: ‘He only lived here for a few months but he caused so many problems.

‘That photo was taken in November 2016 and he had refused to let bailiffs and workmen who were due to install new gas and electricity meters into the property.

‘He was abusive and shouting at them in the street so the police were called.

‘Rather than deterring him, he refused to budge and was continuing his outburst at police so they put him in handcuffs and led him away. He wasn’t a very nice person. He wouldn’t engage with anyone in the street unless he was shouting at them.

Faiisal Akram, 44, (pictured) from Blackburn was the gunman in the hostage situation at a Texas synagogue 

‘On one occasion he’d parked his car across one of his neighbour’s driveways blocking them in. 

‘The lady went over and knocked on his door and asked him politely if he could move his car but he started to yell and swear at her. He refused to move the car and told her that she could not tell him what to do because she was a woman.

‘He had a very sexist way of behaving. He was very extreme in his religious views and did not believe women and men were equal. 

‘There was another similar row over parking with another neighbour which saw them both square up to each other and nearly turn violent.

‘One neighbour wanted to move because he and his family were really disruptive. And this cul-de-sac is normally very peaceful with everyone else getting on with each other. 

‘He left at some point late in 2018 or early 2019, we believe they went to Manchester. It was a relief when they did finally go. He was the neighbour from hell.

‘But it was still a huge surprise to see that he was the one who had laid siege to a synagogue in America and had been shot dead by the authorities.’

The former landlord of the house told MailOnline that Akram had ripped up the carpet, destroyed furniture and damaged the fridge freezer as well as refusing to pay the rent.

He said: ‘He liked to pass himself off as a good Muslim but he wasn’t at all, he behaved despicably.’

Akram, who MailOnline revealed yesterday was banned from Blackburn Magistrates Court in 2001 for ranting about the 9/11 terror attacks, has a criminal record dating back more than 25-years.

He found himself in Borstal as a teenager before going to an adult prison in 1996, aged 19, for violent disorder after attacking a cousin with a baseball bat.

A year later he was back in prison again, this time for the destruction of property, and then in 1999 for harassment. He is believed to have taken to selling drugs and was then in prison again in 2012 for stealing £5,000 in cash and phones. But the case was later stopped.

Given his background, questions continue to grow over how he was allowed into the United States, as White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters today he was checked ‘multiple times’ before he entered the country. 

The White House press secretary said the federal government had no ‘derogatory information’ on Akram before he landed in the United States

A short while earlier, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy released a blistering statement demanding answers from President Joe Biden’s White House and raising alarms over ‘what national security concerns remain.’

In addition to condemning the attack, he and other national Republican figures like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis have been grilling the administration over its handling of the incident.  

‘Our understanding, and obviously we’re still looking into this, is that he was checked against US government databases multiple times prior to entering the country,’ Psaki said on Tuesday. 

Akram, 44, flew to New York City from the UK on January 22, despite being known to MI5 and having a criminal record. 

She explained that the government did not have any ‘derogatory information’ on Akram when he entered the country.

‘We’re certainly looking back, as I referenced, at what occurred to learn every possible lesson we can to prevent attacks like this in the future,’ Psaki said. 

Akram was fixated with demanding the release of Lady al-Qaeda Aafia Siddiqui, a convicted terrorist in a Texan jail who is a cause célèbre for terror groups around the world.

His brother has claimed that he believes ‘someone helped him’ through immigration because he had been in and out of prison since he was a juvenile. 

The terrorist, from Blackburn, England, was shot dead in Texas on Saturday night after a 10-hour siege at the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville where he took a rabbi and three of his congregation hostage with a handgun and claiming to be carrying a suicide bomb.

Akram became known to British counter-terrorism police after becoming ‘completely obsessed’ with Islam and displayed extreme and disruptive behavior at Friday prayers during his most recent spell in prison.

He was also a regular at anti-Israel demonstrations and marches for the release of Muslim prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, having first been put behind bars in 1996 as a juvenile delinquent and going in and out of prison for 16 years until he found religion. 

In 2001 he was banned from his local court in England, where he was a regular in the dock, for turning up to abuse staff and ranting about 9/11. He was a regular visitor to Pakistan and reportedly a member of the Tablighi Jamaat group, set up to ‘purify’ Islam and banned from Saudi after the kingdom described the group as a ‘gateway to terrorism’.

One senator, briefed on the case the Department for Homeland Security and a former Pentagon official, told British newspaper The Daily Telegraph today: ‘Certainly someone let the ball drop.’ 

The security services were accused of a serious ‘intelligence failure’ after a British Islamist was able to travel to the US – and MailOnline can reveal that about a fortnight ago, British police were looking for him at the Manchester home he shares with his six children.

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