A Jewish leader says the FBI erred after an official said the hostage – taker’s claim from the Texas synagogue was “not specifically related to the Jewish community.”
A Texas SWAT team responded to Congregation Beth Israel on Saturday after British citizen Malik Faisal Akram, 44, allegedly entered the building and held four people, including a rabbi, hostage for hours. A livestream of the service was on Facebook during part of the hostage situation before it was taken down.
Investigators said the hostage-taker expressed support for Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist who was sentenced to 86 years in prison in 2010 for attempting to murder and assault U.S. military personnel and was detained at Federal Medical Center Carswell in a Fort Worth jail.
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After nearly 12 hours of negotiations with the hostage-taker, the hostages were released after a loud bang, and the sound of gunfire could be heard at the Congregation Beth Israel.
At a news conference after the hostages were released, FBI Attorney General Matt DeSarno said “the hostage – taker’s demands from the Texas synagogue were specifically focused on issues unrelated to the Jewish community.”
Kenneth Marcus, founder and president of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law and former Assistant U.S. Secretary of Education for Civil Rights, disagreed, telling Fox News Digital that “the FBI was wrong.”
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He said the attack “was obviously a matter of anti-Semitism.”
“If the FBI does not understand this, it is something of a pattern of law enforcement in the United States and frankly in Europe. It seems that time and time again we see law enforcement officials not understanding when an anti-Semitic incident occurs, even when it is completely “Obviously, and sometimes the results are tragic. This time, fortunately, they have not been,” Marcus said.
“If the law enforcement community does not understand what is going on, they will not be able to address the consequences of this,” he added. “This was not just a fall. It is symptomatic of a widespread failure of law enforcement to understand the problems of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism,” Marcus said.
Roz Rothstein, co-founder and CEO of StandWithUs, an educational organization that educates individuals about Israel and fights anti-Semitism, told Fox News that the notion of the hostage-taker not targeting Jewish society is “insulting and disappointing.”
“Trying to separate Jews from the idea that Jews were targeted on their holy day in their house of worship is a mistake, and it is insulting and disappointing,” Rothstein said.
“It is also dangerous to downplay an attack on the Jewish people as something else in a time of rising anti-Jewish bigotry that we should all be aware of. It makes no sense to try to separate Saturday’s hostage crisis from the people who suffered. “and who was most affected: Jews, their Jewish families and the Jewish world,” she added.
The FBI followed up in a statement late Sunday: “All of us in the FBI are relieved of the hostage situation in Colleyville, Texas, were resolved without physical harm to those taken hostage. We never lose the threat that extremists pose to the Jewish community. and to other religious, racial and ethnic groups.We have had a close and lasting relationship with the Jewish community for many years.We continue to work tirelessly with the Secure Community Network, Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Federation and others to protect members of the Jewish community from all potential threats. “
The agency went on to clarify, “This is a terror-related case where Jewish community was targeted and it is being investigated by the Joint Terrorism Task Force. Preventing terrorist acts and violence is the FBI’s number one priority.”
Rothstein believes the FBI official “spoke incorrectly” in his comments after the hostage situation ended.
Rothstein said one of the reasons the FBI agent could have spoken incorrectly is because anti-Semitism “is not properly identified and condemned, deliberately or out of ignorance. It underscores the need for a consistent definition.”
“We remain deeply grateful for the work they did that day to rescue the hostages,” Rothstein said.
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Rothstein said the actions of the hostage-taker during the day reveal that he was targeting Jews.
The man was looking for a synagogue near the airport, got the rabbi to contact another rabbi in New York, who he thought could move the meter at the release of Aafia Siddiqui, who were anti-Semitic slanderers during his quarrel as well as from Siddiqui “During her trial, there can be no doubt that he targeted Jews,” Rothstein said.
Fox News’ Jake Gibson contributed to this report.