A gunman held several people hostage at a synagogue in the city of Colleyville in Texas for nearly 12 hours on Saturday, Reuters reported. Texas Governor Greg Abott said on Saturday evening that all hostages are “out alive and safe”. None of them were injured.
The standoff took place at the Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville. The gunman initially took four people hostage, including the rabbi at the synagogue. Six hours later, he released one hostage unharmed.
Subsequently, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Hostage Rescue Team stormed the synagogue and freed the three other hostages. Colleyville police chief Michael Miller told mediapersons that the gunman is dead, according to Reuters.
The man was heard seeking the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist who is alleged to have links with terrorist outfit Al-Qaeda, AP quoted officials as saying. Siddiqui is reportedly lodged in a federal prison in Texas.
In 2010, Siddiqui was sentenced to 86 years’ imprisonment for assaulting and shooting at United States Army officers while being detained in Afghanistan.
United States President Joe Biden said on Saturday night that he was grateful for the work of law enforcement officers who “acted cooperatively and fearlessly to rescue the hostages”.
“There is more we will learn in the days ahead about the motivations of the hostage taker,” Biden said. “But let me be clear to anyone who intends to spread hate – we will stand against anti-Semitism and against the rise of extremism in this country. That is who we are, and tonight, the men and women of law enforcement made us all proud.”
Earlier, Israel’s Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that he was closely monitoring the hostage situation. “We pray for the safety of the hostages and rescuers,” he said.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations strongly condemned the incident, and said that it stands in solidarity with the Jewish community. “This latest antisemitic attack at a house of worship is an unacceptable act of evil,” the organisation’s National Deputy Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell said, according to AP. “...No cause can justify or excuse this crime.”