The FBI identified the suspect who took four people hostage Saturday at a Colleyville, Texas, synagogue as Malik Faisal Akram, 44. Authorities said Saturday night that Akram had died, while all four hostages made it out alive.

Akram was a British citizen, the FBI said. He arrived to the U.S. two weeks ago via New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, a federal law enforcement source told CBS News.

Two U.S. officials told CBS News that Akram did not appear on any U.S. terror watch lists, although they are still looking and working on name differentiations. The FBI is investigating if he had any help in the U.S. 

Officials are also assessing the suspect’s mental health.  

Federal law enforcement investigating the scene have not yet discovered if any explosive material was found on the suspect, a senior federal law enforcement source told CBS News. Federal courts do not show a criminal history for the suspect.   

Police Respond To Hostage Situation At Texas Synagogue
Police cars remain parked at Good Shepherd Catholic Community church on January 15, 2022, in Colleyville, Texas.

Emil Lippe / Getty Images

Authorities said the suspect took four people hostages during services on Saturday morning, which was being broadcast on a livestream. The suspect could be heard ranting on the livestream, CBS Dallas-Fort Worth reports.

Four hostages were held inside the synagogue for hours, with one male hostage being released around 7:30 p.m. ET. Shortly after 10:30 p.m., Texas Governor Greg Abbott said the remaining three hostages were “out alive and safe.”

Authorities said shortly afterward that the suspect was dead. 

Authorities did not reveal a specific motive, but the FBI said it believes the hostage-taker was “singularly focused on one issue, and it was not specifically related to the Jewish community.” A source close to the incident told CBS News that they believe the hostage-taker had asked for the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani woman serving an 86-year sentence in federal prison for trying to kill U.S. officers in Afghanistan.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan called the incident an “act of terrorism” and an “act of anti-Semitism” in an interview on “Face the Nation” Sunday morning.

“We have the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and law enforcement and intelligence agencies working intensively to get a full picture of what this person’s motives were and whether or not there are any further connections,” Sullivan said.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas tweeted Sunday that the “immediate crisis is over. Yet the fear of rising antisemitism remains.”

“We must answer hate with action & ensure synagogues and all houses of worship are sanctuaries of safety, Shabbat and other days of faithful observance a time of peace, and America a place of freedom for all,” Mayorkas wrote. 

FBI Dallas special agent in charge Matthew DeSarno said Saturday night that there is no indication of “any kind of ongoing threat.” He said the FBI will continue investigating the hostage-taker, and noted that the investigation would have “global reach.” 

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker of Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville posted on Facebook on Sunday that he is “thankful” for the law enforcement and security training. 

“I am grateful that we made it out,” he wrote. “I am grateful to be alive.”

Jordan Freiman contributed to this report.


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