Gunman takes Jewish worshippers hostage in US

Published January 16, 2022
Law enforcement teams stage near Congregation Beth Israel while conducting SWAT operations in Colleyville, Texas on Jan 15. — AP
Law enforcement teams stage near Congregation Beth Israel while conducting SWAT operations in Colleyville, Texas on Jan 15. — AP

WASHINGTON: A gunman, holding worshippers and Rabbi hostage at the Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, was demanding Aafia Siddiqui’s release, local media reports claimed on Saturday.

The worshippers were finishing the Shabbat Services when the episode began.

Officials, however, refused to confirm the gunman’s link to Ms Siddiqui. They only confirmed that a gunman was holding hostages at a synagogue and the FBI personnel were negotiating with him.

A SWAT police operation was under way at a Texas synagogue where a man reportedly took several people hostage, AFP added.

Demands release of Aafia Siddiqui, say media reports

ABC News, citing an unspecified source, said the hostage-taker was armed, and had claimed to have bombs in unknown locations.

Quoting a US official briefed on the matter, ABC reported that the man was claiming to be the brother of Ms Siddiqui and was demanding to have his sister freed from prison.

Ms Siddiqui, a former scientist, was in 2010 sentenced by a New York court to 86 years in prison for attempted murder of US officers in Afghanistan.

A live stream of the congregation’s Shabbat morning service on Facebook appeared to capture audio of a man talking loudly — although it did not show the scene inside the building.

In it he could be heard saying, “You get my sister on the phone,” and “I am gonna die.”

He was also heard as saying: “There’s something wrong with America.”

The stream began at 10am and stopped broadcasting just before 2pm.

The Colleyville police department said in a tweet at 11:30am that it was “conducting SWAT operations” at the address of the Congregation Beth Israel. In an update two hours later the department said the situation “remains ongoing”.

Published in Dawn, January 16th, 2022

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