At least four people were taken hostage at the Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, on Saturday, January 15. An armed suspect claiming to possess bombs interrupted a prayer meet the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and took a rabbi and three other congregants hostage. Sources told ABC News that the hostage-taker was demanding the release of convicted terrorist Aafia Siddiqui.
According to CNN, a rabbi is believed to be among the four hostages. Authorities noted that the FBI negotiators made contact with the hostage-taker. According to Colleyville police, no injuries to the hostages or damages to the building have been reported as of yet. The Colleyville Police Department's SWAT team responded to the situation before 11 am Saturday and proceeded to evacuate residents in the surrounding area.
President Joe Biden, Texas Gov Greg Abbott, and Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn are all monitoring the situation. The Congregation Beth Israel, where the hostage situation is unfolding, is affiliated with the Union for Reform Judaism. The congregation serves 157 membership families, according to the website.
Aafia Siddiqui was convicted in 2010 on seven charges, including attempted murder and armed assault on US officers in Afghanistan. She is serving an 86-year sentence at a facility in Texas.
Food ordered for the hostage-taker
It is not clear at the moment to what extent the hostage-taker is armed, but he was seen carrying backpacks, according to ABC News. An agency spokesperson noted that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives is also responding to the situation. The negotiators ordered the suspect food and are negotiating with him while being careful to not do anything that could possibly jeopardize the safety of the hostages.
One hostage released
The identities of the people who are taken hostage are not clear at the moment. Sgt. Dara Nelson with the Colleyville Police Department noted that one of the hostages was released around 6 pm, uninjured. Investigators said that three people are still being held hostage. Nelson added that the FBI negotiators are still in contact with the suspect.