All four hostages were released at the Texas synagogue, suspecting prisoner killed

All four people taken hostage in a more than 10-hour battle at a Texas synagogue have been released unharmed, police said late Saturday, and their suspect is dead.

The siege of the small town of Colleyville, Texas – where the suspect apparently demanded the release of a convicted terrorist – had sparked a stream of unrest from Jewish organizations in the United States and the Israeli government.

Colleyville Police Chief Michael Miller told a news conference that a “rescue team broke into the synagogue” on Saturday night and rescued three remaining hostages – all adults – who were being held. A first hostage had been released unharmed a few hours earlier.

“The suspect is dead,” Miller told reporters.

FBI Dallas Special Agent Matt DeSarno said the four hostages – who included a much-loved local rabbi, Charlie Cytron-Walker – did not need medical attention.

“He did not harm them in any way,” he said.

There were reports from journalists at the scene of a powerful explosion and gunfire at the synagogue just before the press conference.

It was more than 10 hours after police were alerted to the emergency at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of Dallas.

Police evacuated the synagogue’s surroundings and cordoned off the area, police say.

ABC News reported that the hostage-taker was armed and had claimed to have bombs in unknown locations. It was not confirmed by police even though Miller said “bomb technicians are clearing the site.”

Around 3 a.m. local time (0800 GMT), police tweeted that “now it was safe for residents evacuated to return.”

It is now safe for residents who have been evacuated to return to their homes. We know this has been a major inconvenience and we appreciate your patience. #Colleyville

– Colleyville Police (@ColleyvillePD) January 16, 2022

ABC quoted a U.S. official as being informed of the case and reported that the man demanded the release of Aafia Siddiqui – a Pakistani scientist who in 2010 was sentenced by a court in New York to 86 years in prison for the assassination attempt on U.S. officers in Afghanistan.

She is currently being held in a prison in Fort Worth, Texas.

DeSarno told the press conference that the suspect had been identified, but did not reveal his identity.

The FBI’s special agent did not confirm the suspect’s claims, but said they were “focused on an issue that was not specifically threatening to the Jewish community” – and that he did not believe there was an ongoing threat.

ABC initially said the man claimed to be Siddiqui’s brother, but later clarified that her brother is in Houston – while experts said the word the man used in Arabic was more figurative and meant “sister” in the Islamic faith.

Siddiqui’s lawyer said she “has absolutely no involvement” in the hostage situation in a statement to CNN. The lawyer confirmed that the man was not Siddiqui’s brother and said that she condemned his actions.

The prayers were answered.

All the hostages are alive and well.

– Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) January 16, 2022

DeSarno said police negotiators “had a high frequency and duration of contact with” the hostage-taker.

“There were times when it stopped for periods and like many hostage situations, the relationship between the negotiators and the hostage taker had hovered a bit and sometimes become intense,” he said.


A live stream of the congregation’s Sabbath morning service, available on Facebook for about four hours during the break, seemed to capture the sound of a man talking loudly – even though it did not show the scene inside the building.

He could be heard saying, “You’ll get my sister on the phone,” and “I’m going to die.”

He was also heard saying, “There is something wrong with America.”

Beth Israel parishioner Ellen Smith described the situation as “shocking and frightening” in a CNN interview.

She said the congregation was a “tight” community, and that the rabbi in particular was “the best person I think anyone could ever meet.”

But she said it was “not shocking” that the crisis occurred in a Jewish community.

“Cases of anti-Semitism have increased recently, but since Jews first walked the earth, we have been persecuted,” she said.

President Joe Biden promised to “stand against anti-Semitism and the rise of extremism in this country.”

“I am grateful for the tireless work of law enforcement agencies at all levels who acted cooperatively and fearlessly to rescue the hostages,” he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett tweeted: “This incident is a stark reminder that anti-Semitism is still alive and we must continue to fight it worldwide.

“To the Jewish community in Colleyville and around the world: You are not alone – we are united with you.”

“No one should ever be afraid to gather in their place of worship,” the Jewish Community Relations Council said in a statement, while the Council on American-Islamic Relations said they were in touch with Colleyville’s Jewish leaders to “provide all possible assistance. . “


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