Unlike Israel where the Texas synagogue siege has faded to yesterday’s news, powerful voices in the US Senate are pressing for a full inquiry to find out how the known British jihadi Malik Faisal Akram was able to slip past UK and US intelligence and enter the country. Akram died in a hail of bullets when the FBI stormed the Colleyville synagogue building. The four hostages, including a rabbi, he was holding survived unharmed. The discovery that Akram was known to British MI5 but absent from America’s intelligence databases prompted the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday, Jan. 18 to demand a thorough investigation. The affair threatens a diplomatic row between Washington and London.
It is unclear if the UK shared its intelligence and the US missed it or that this and other cases were not routinely passed to Britain’s allies.
Akram was first investigated in 2020 by MI5 after organizing toys and clothes shipments to Syria. The British inquiry was shut down after it was decided that Akram posed no terrorist threat. This enabled him to travel abroad without raising flags. Akram had also, however, attracted the attention of the UK authorities by his association with Daniel Gee, a member of one of Liverpool’s most notorious crime families, who converted to Islam after being sentenced to jail. Akram later spent four months with Gee’s brother, Darren, who also spent time in jail for murder. During that time, he discussed ways of making it into the US, fearing he would be stopped at the border
It is unclear how Akram was able to enter the US on a tourist visa when his criminal history included conviction for aggravated violence. More recently, he became obsessed with forcing the release of Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui who is serving an 86-year sentence in a Texan jail for trying to kill US soldiers. This was the apparent motive of the synagogue attack.
On arrival in America, Akram was met by an unknown man who appeared to know him well and helped him melt into the homeless community. Before heading for the synagogue, he and the unidentified man were seen at a homeless charity shelter.
This and other incidents strongly suggest that Akram never acted alone but was backed by a substantial jihadist-crime organization with transatlantic tentacles. The FBI – and therefore also MI5 – are being pushed hard by the powerful US Senate Committee into repairing their oversight in the Akram case with a full investigation of the organization behind him.