The British suspect who died after allegedly taking Jewish worshippers hostage at a Texas synagogue this weekend had a lengthy criminal background and, during one prison stint, behaved in such an “extreme” manner at a jail’s mosque it showed he was “obsessed” with Islam, sources confirmed to Fox News.
Malik Faisal Akram, 44, had a criminal record, an official at the U.K.’s Justice Department confirmed to Fox News. His last brush with the law was in 2012 when he was convicted of theft and harassment.
During the time he was in prison for that conviction, Akram, who had prior criminal offenses, reportedly conducted himself in an “extreme” manner when attending the jail’s mosque, and one observer noted he was “obsessed” with Islam, according to the British official.
Gulbar Akram told the New York Times his brother was arrested at age 19 for wielding a baseball bat during a fight with his cousins and spent a six-month stint at a young offenders’ institute. Gulbar Akram said their parents had emigrated to the U.K. from Pakistan in the 1960s and raised six sons in Blackburn, England.
Also confirmed to Fox News by the British official, a rare judicial ban was issued against Akram in September 2001 following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. Akram ranted in a U.K. courtroom and to justice officials about the attack in New York City, at one point telling one of the attendants he “wished he was on the plane” that crashed into the World Trade Center, the official said.
Multiple news reports indicate Akram was investigated for possible terror activity by the British intelligence agency MI-5 in the second half of 2020, but that investigation was later dropped.
Between three or four weeks ago, it’s reported detectives were also seen at Akram’s house inquiring about his whereabouts. It was around then that he left for the U.S., according to those reports.
It has been reported that Akram has been seen at anti-Guantanamo and pro-Palestinian protests in the U.K., that he has been active in various U.K. Muslim centers, and a member of an organization which U.S. intelligence follows that’s said to act as a “gateway” for terrorists.
Though a spokesperson for MI-5 would not confirm those details to Fox News, he did indicate British intelligence are working closely with US officials on the investigation.
U.K. Home Secretary Priti Patel spoke by phone with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandros Mayorkas on Monday, and FBI agents are now said to be on the ground in the U.K.
Saturday’s hours-long standoff at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas – about 15 miles northeast of Fort Worth – ended with the suspect dead and all hostages safe.
Akram could be heard on a Facebook livestream video demanding the release of an imprisoned Pakistani neuroscientist known in counterterrorism circles as “Lady Al-Qaeda.”
Aafia Siddiqui, who is serving an 86-year prison sentence after being convicted in 2010 of trying to kill U.S. Army officers in Afghanistan, is being held at a federal prison in Fort Worth.
The FBI has extended investigations as far as London and Tel Aviv, and two teenagers were detained in Manchester, England, on Sunday in connection to the investigation into the Texas hostage incident.
Malik Faisal Akram’s brother, Gulbar Akram, released a statement through the Blackburn Muslim Community detailing how he was called into a police station in Greenbank, where he worked in an incident room with terrorism police liaising with the FBI and negotiators during the hostage incident.
In an interview with the New York Times, Gulbar Akram said he spoke to his brother during the siege happening some 5,000 miles away to talk him down. Without providing many details, Gulbar told the newspaper his brother was known to counterterrorism police. He also said Faisal had mental health issues, worsened after the recent death of their other brother from the coronavirus.
The FBI Dallas Field Office declined to confirm to Fox News Digital whether Akram had flown into New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport about two weeks ago, which is what some outlets are reporting, citing unnamed sources or Akram’s brother. It is believed that Akram stayed at several Dallas-area homeless shelters before being dropped off at the synagogue on Saturday.