An armed man demanding the release of a convicted terrorist, Aafia Siddiqui, took four people, including a rabbi hostage at the Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas on Saturday, January 15 afternoon. In the latest update, Texas governor, Greg Abbott informed in a tweet that all the hostages were released safe and sound on Saturday night. "Prayers answered. All hostages are allowed safe and alive," he wrote. One of the hostages was released uninjured earlier on Saturday evening.
Earlier, the hostage-taker was believed to be Aafia Siddiqui's brother, however, her attorney clarified that it was not the case. "We want to verify that the perpetrator is NOT Dr. Aafia's brother who is a respected architect and member of the community. Whoever the assailant is, we want him to know that his actions are condemned by Dr. Aafia and her family," a statement by Siddiqui's attorney, Marwa Elbially said.
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. The hostage-taker, whose identity is not clear at the moment, demanded her release. He even made the hostage rabbi make a phone call to a different rabbi in New York City and repeated his demands.
The hostage-taker is dead
According to CNN, Colleyville police confirmed at a news conference on Saturday night that the hostage-taker was dead and the hostages were rescued safely. "Around 9 pm, the hostage rescue team (HRT), breached the synagogue, they rescued the three hostages, the suspect is deceased," Colleyville Police Chief Michael Miller said.
The identity of the hostage-taker and the manner of his death are not clear at the moment.
CNN reported that around 20 minutes before the Texas governor informed the release of the hostages, a loud bang and a blast of rapid gunfire was heard from the direction of the synagogue. More details are expected to be uncovered in the press conference the officials will host soon.
Colleyville Police Chief Michael Miller noted at the news conference that the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue is still an active crime scene. Bomb technicians are clearing the site. The identities of the people, who were taken hostage are not clear at the moment.