The man who allegedly held Jewish worshippers hostage at a Texas synagogue was a British citizen.
The suspect who died at the scene after allegedly taking hostages at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, near Fort Worth, Saturday was a British national, according to the U.K. government’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.
“We are aware of the death of a British man in Texas and are in contact with the local authorities,” a spokesperson for the office said in an emailed statement to Fox News Digital.
TEXAS HOSTAGE SITUATION: ALL HOSTAGES ‘ALIVE AND SAFE,’ GREG ABBOTT TWEETS AFTER HOURS-LONG ORDEAL
Fox News Digital has reached out to the State Department, Justice Department, the FBI Dallas Division and the Colleyville Police Department early Sunday seeking additional comment.
It’s unclear how the individual entered the U.S. or if he had a criminal background.
The hours-long hostage incident ended Saturday night with the hostages safe and the man holding them dead, according to authorities. The man allegedly had demanded the release of a Pakistani woman who is imprisoned nearby on charges of trying to kill American service members in Afghanistan.
That woman, Aafia Siddiqui, is serving an 86-year prison sentence after being convicted in Manhattan in 2010 on charges that she sought to shoot U.S. military officers while being detained in Afghanistan two years earlier. She’s a Pakistani neuroscientist who studied in the United States at prestigious institutions — Brandeis University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Top FBI and Justice Department described her as an “al-Qaida operative and facilitator” at a May 2004 news conference and warned of intelligence showing al-Qaida planned an attack in the coming months.
In 2008, she was detained by authorities in Afghanistan. American officials said they found in her possession handwritten notes that discussed the construction of so-called dirty bombs and that listed various locations in the U.S. that could be targeted in a “mass casualty attack.”
Inside an interview room at an Afghan police compound, authorities say, she grabbed the M4 rifle of a U.S. Army officer and opened fire on members of the U.S. team assigned to interrogate her.
She was convicted in 2010 on charges including attempting to kill U.S. nationals outside the United States. At her sentencing hearing, she gave rambling statements in which she delivered a message of world peace — and also forgave the judge. She expressed frustration at arguments from her own lawyers who said she deserved leniency because she was mentally ill.
“I’m not paranoid,” she said at one point. “I don’t agree with that.”
Pakistani officials immediately decried the punishment, which prompted protests in multiple cities and criticism in the media. The prime minister at the time, Yousuf Raza Gilani, called her the “daughter of the nation” and vowed to campaign for her release from jail. In the years since, Pakistani leaders have openly floated the idea of swaps or deals that could result in her release.
Faizan Syed, executive director of the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said the group considers Siddiqui to have been “caught in the war on terror” as well as a political prisoner who was wrongly accused through flawed evidence.
He nonetheless strongly condemned the hostage-taking, calling it wrong, heinous and “something that is completely undermining our efforts to get Dr. Aaifa released.”
The woman, known as “Lady al Qaeda,” has also garnered support from accused militants in the United States. An Ohio man who admitted he plotted to kill U.S. military members after receiving training in Syria also planned to fly to Texas and attack the federal prison where Siddiqui is being held in an attempt to free her. The man, Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud, was sentenced in 2018 to 22 years in prison.
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Siddiqui is being held at a federal prison in Fort Worth, where she was attacked in July by another inmate at the facility and suffered serious injuries, according to court documents.
Before the Texas hostage incident ended, authorities and others were worried about a repeat of such tragedies as the Tree of Life massacre in Pittsburgh in October 2018, where 11 people were killed, or the Poway, California, synagogue shooting near San Diego in 2019, where there was one fatality.
Fox News’ Adam Sabes, Dom Calicchio and The Associated Press contributed to this report.