Two teenagers were arrested in Manchester in connection with the taking of hostages in a synagogue in Texas

The synagogue attacked in Texas (Brandon Bell/Getty Images via AFP)

Two teenagers have been arrested in Manchester, in the north of England, as part of research on the hostage taking at a Texas synagogue (USA) last Saturday, the British Police reported on Monday.

The teens remain in custody after the British Malik Faisal Akram, 44 years old, was identified as responsible for the hostage-taking, in an attack that lasted several hours and in which the author lost his life after being shot by the Police.

The so-called Greater Manchester Police reported that officers from the north west england counter terrorism unit arrested two young men, whose ages or identities have not been provided.

Akram, originally from Blackburn, in the north of England, had arrived two weeks ago at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, and after he bought the gun he used in the synagogue, according to US law enforcement.

In his negotiations with US agents, which lasted hours, Akram called for the release of Pakistani scientist Aafia Siddiqui, who is serving an 86-year prison sentence in Texas for trying to kill US soldiers and agents while detained in Afghanistan.

Security forces in the hostage-taking area (REUTERS / Shelby Tauber)
Security forces in the hostage-taking area (REUTERS / Shelby Tauber)

Akram took four hostages, including a respected local rabbi, Charlie Cytron-Walker, who were released unharmed Saturday night, drawing relief in the United States, where the Jewish community and Biden renewed calls to combat anti-Semitism.

A man who identified himself as Akram’s brother, Gulbar, said in a Facebook post that the suspect had suffered from mental health issues.

“We would like to say that we as a family do not condone any of their actions and would like to sincerely and wholeheartedly apologize to all the victims involved in the unfortunate incident.”Gulbar said in the post on a Facebook page of the Muslim community in Blackburn.

On Sunday, the US president Joe Biden declined to speculate on the motive, but appeared to confirm reports that the kidnapper was seeking the release of Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist known as “Lady Al-Qaeda”.

President Biden said the attack was a "act of terrorism"  (REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)
President Biden called the attack an “act of terrorism” (REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

“This was an act of terrorism” committed by an assailant who apparently “insisted on the release of someone who has been in prison for over 10 years,” Biden told reporters during a visit to a hunger relief organization in Philadelphia.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary Liz Truss also condemned the hostage-taking on Sunday as a “act of terrorism and antisemitism”.

Siddiqui, the first woman suspected by the United States of having ties to Al-Qaeda and a cause célèbre in Pakistan and in South Asian jihadi circles, was arrested in Afghanistan in 2008.

The attacker is believed to have called for the release of Aafia Siddiqui
The attacker is believed to have called for the release of Aafia Siddiqui

Two years later she was sentenced by a New York court to 86 years in prison for attempted murder of US officers in Afghanistan.

She is being held in a prison in Fort Worth, Texas, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) from the synagogue that Akram attacked.

Siddiqui’s lawyer has said that she had “absolutely no involvement” in the hostage-taking and condemned her.

Any link he might have with Akram was not made clear.

(With information from EFE and AFP)

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