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A brother in the UK says the man who took the Texas synagogue hostage had ‘mental health problems’


Blackburn, England – A British man named by the FBI as the man who held four people hostage at a Texas synagogue on Saturday could not go to the United States because he had serious mental problems, his brother said in an interview. On Monday.

Malik Faisal Akram, 44, of Blackburn, northwest England. Killed after 11 hours of confrontation The FBI is working with police and law enforcement officers at Congregation Beth Israel in Goliwall, Texas, near Fort Worth.

His brother Gulbar Akram describes him in a telephone interview that he grew up far away from his family members in recent years.

“He had mental health issues,” his brother said in an interview. “It’s well known, everyone in town knows he has mental health issues.” He did not provide further details.

British officials, including the Greater Manchester Police and Home Office, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Gulber said Akram had spoken to his brother on the phone as FBI and Texas officials tried to negotiate with him during the clashes on Saturday. He described a tense and emotional conversation with his brother, who said he had tried to talk of freeing the hostages and recovering himself as the conflict continued into the evening.

After all the hostages were released, Faisal Akram died, although authorities did not provide details on how.

He said he did not believe his brother had anti-Semitic or racist beliefs, and that he had a record of a phone call to his brother while he was in the synagogue in which he referred to the hostages as “four handsome Jews.”

Mr. Akram said he was with officers at a station in Manchester on Saturday and was watching the episode through the police surveillance feed there. “I was in contact with the terrorist police in the incident room, the negotiators, the FBI who was in touch with Washington,” he said. “Everyone in that room is connected, isn’t it?”

“We saw him release the first hostage,” he said. Akram said he described seeing an hour later how the other three hostages were released through the fire door.

Gulbar Akram said he last saw his brother three months ago, at the funeral of another of their brothers who died of complications caused by the corona virus. Since then, his brother’s mood has worsened, Mr Akram said.

“I do not know what’s on his mind,” he said. Akram said he did not believe his brother had any previous connections with the Texas area where the synagogue is located. Mr. Akram said his brother was known to the anti-terrorism police in Britain, but did not provide details.

“How did he get to the United States?” Mr. Akram said. “Why was he granted a visa? How did he get off at JFK Airport and not stop for a second?”

Mr. Akram, whose parents are elderly, said he was “extinct” and added, “We lost two brothers in four months.”

Their parents immigrated to Britain from Pakistan in the 1960s and raised their six sons in the large city of Blackburn in northwest England. He said his parents were not involved in the hostage negotiations. Akram said.

They said British officials were working with anti-terrorism police.

Late on Sunday, the Greater Manchester Police in the UK announced that they were detaining two young men for questioning.

Faisal Akram landed at Kennedy International Airport in New York before leaving for Texas. According to two U.S. officials, he entered the United States legally and spoke anonymously because he did not have the authority to speak publicly about the ongoing investigation.

Faisal Akram, one of six brothers, married his own children and lived with them in Manchester for many years.

According to his brother, he was arrested in the 1990s when he was 19 and sent to a juvenile delinquent organization, where he was later sentenced to six months in prison for violent disorder for using a baseball bat during a family quarrel with his relatives. Those details could not be verified immediately and independently.

Gulbar Akram said his family shared a short, personal statement with community members over the weekend, detailing their cooperation with the police. He then posted on the Facebook page without their permission.

In it, they shared their grief as a family and said, “We want to apologize wholeheartedly to all those affected.”

Mr. Akram, a local businessman, was contacted by phone on Monday after his details by a family member who lives on a red brick houses street on a hill overlooking the city.

The Northern Industrial City has been attracting Pakistani and Indian immigrants since the 1950s, with jobs in the textile industry initially booming in the region at one time. Blackburn is one of the largest Asian populations in the UK, with nearly a third of its population identified as Asian or Asian British. According to the 2011 census.

On Monday, the Muslim Council of Britain condemned the captivity and expressed its solidarity with the Jewish community in a statement issued by the council’s general secretary, Zara Mohammed.

“The act is highly reprehensible as it was instigated in a place of worship targeted at Jews,” the statement added: “We thank the hostages for their innocence.