synagogue hostage texas

A man took hostages at Beth Israel Synagogue in Colleyville, Texas on Jan. 15, 2022.
Hostages at a Texas synagogue were safely rescued, and the hostage-taker was dead Saturday night, after holding a rabbi and his congregants for nearly half a day with demands that US authorities release a convicted terrorist known as "Lady al-Qaeda."

"Prayers answered," Texas Gov. Greg Abbot tweeted at 9:30 p.m. to deliver the fortunate update, minutes after an elite FBI hostage rescue team that was flown in from Virginia entered the Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, FBI Special Agent Matt DeSarno said in a press conference.

It was unclear how the unidentified suspect — who claimed to have a bomb — died, but flashbangs and gunshots were heard as the SWAT team stormed the house of worship, more than 10 hours after the suspect took control of the house of worship.

The hostage-taker demanded the release of Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui, who was convicted in Manhattan Federal Court in 2010 of trying to kill US authorities in Afghanistan, and claimed to be her brother.

He also phoned a New York City rabbi in a bizarre bid for help, according to sources - but was "singularly focused on one issue and it was not specifically related to the Jewish community," according to DeSarno.

The feds were tightlipped about specifics of Saturday's rescue mission, and would not say if the suspect was armed with explosives, but said the outcome would not have ended well without "a long day of work by nearly 200 officers from across the region."

Police were in "constant communication" with the suspect, Colleyville Police Chief Micheal Miller said, and were encouraged when he released a male hostage from the synagogue in good condition around 5 p.m.

"It's very likely this situation would have ended very badly early in the day if we did not have professional consistent contact with the subject," DeSarno said.

At some point Saturday afternoon, the hostage-taker — who was caught on the synagogue's livestream angrily ranting about religion and claiming to have explosives — forced Congregation Beth Israel Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker to place a call to Manhattan's Central Synagogue, a law enforcement source told The Post.

The man demanded to speak to Rabbi Angela Buchdahl, and asked her to use her "influence" to help get Siddiqui released before claiming to have a bomb, the source said.

Buchdahl called 911, the source said. It's unclear what connection, if any, the 49-year-old Buchdahl has to the Siddiqui case.

A rep for Central Synagogue called the situation in Texas "a very sad and scary situation," but declined to comment on the call. The NYPD said the Texas event "had no nexus to New York City."

Siddiqui is currently serving an 86-year prison sentence at the Federal Medical Center, Carswell, in nearby Fort Worth, according to public records. The feds claimed the MIT-trained Aafia Siddiqui was an al Qaeda associate when she was arrested in 2008 carrying handwritten plans for a radioactive "dirty bomb," along with a list of New York landmarks.


A rep for Muhammad Siddiqui, the terrorist's brother, said he has nothing to do with the incident. A lawyer who once represented him confirmed her client was not the person holding hostages in Texas.

"Whoever it is, they're not the biological brother of Aafia Siddiqui," Annette Lamoreaux told The Post, noting it's common practice in Islam to refer to people as one's "brother" or "sister."

Aafia Siddiqui also has no connection to the hostage incident, her own attorney insisted to CNN.

"She does not want any violence perpetrated against any human being, especially in her name," lawyer Marwa Elbially told the network. "It obviously has nothing to do with Dr. Siddiqui or her family."

The incident began just after 10:30 a.m. Texas time, according to the Colleyville Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The live stream had 8,000 viewers before it was cut off at 2 p.m.; during the broadcast, the man could be heard saying, "If anyone tries to enter this building, I'm tellin you ... everyone will die," and could be heard repeating, "I'm going to die. Don't cry about me," according to the Jerusalem Post.

President Biden was monitoring the situation, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Twitter.