Law enforcement teams stage near Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, on Saturday. AP
A man held hostages for more than 10 hours Saturday at a Texas synagogue where he could be heard ranting in a livestream and demanding the release of a Pakistani neuroscientist who was convicted of trying to kill US Army officers in Afghanistan.
One of the four hostages held at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville was released during the standoff; three others were rescued when authorities entered the building about 9pm, authorities said. The hostage taker was killed and FBI Special Agent in Charge Matt DeSarno said a team would investigate "the shooting incident.”
Law enforcement officials who were not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation and spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity earlier said that the hostage-taker demanded the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda. He also said he wanted to be able to speak with her, according to the officials. Siddiqui is in federal prison in Texas.
Aafia Siddiqui is seen in the custody of Counter Terrorism Department in Ghazni City, Afghanistan. File/AP
DeSarno said Saturday night that the man had been identified "but we are not prepared to release his identity or confirm his identity at this time.”
A rabbi in New York City received a call from the rabbi believed to be held hostage in the synagogue to demand Siddiqui’s release, a law enforcement official said. The New York rabbi then called 911 .
All the hostages were safely released on Saturday night and the gunman was dead, Colleyville Police Chief Michael Miller said at a news conference.
The gunman had initially taken four people hostage, including the rabbi, at the Congregation Beth Israel, officials said. One hostage was released unharmed six hours later.
An FBI and a police spokeswoman declined to answer questions about who shot the man.
SWAT team members deploy near the Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue in Colleyville, Texas. AFP
DeSarno said the hostage taker was specifically focused on an issue not directly connected to the Jewish community and there was no immediate indication that the man had was part of any broader plan, but DeSarno said the agency’s investigation "will have global reach.”
Local reporters said they heard the sound of explosions, possibly flashbangs, and the sound of gunfire shortly before Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced the crisis was over.
"Prayers answered. All hostages are out alive and safe," Abbott said on Twitter. The FBI said they have confirmed the identity of the gunman but said they would not yet disclose it. The FBI declined to confirm the cause of his death, saying it was still under investigation.
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