A Texan man held hostage by a British terrorist during a 10-hour synagogue siege tells of his dramatic escape as a senator on Monday ted cruz The matter has been demanded for immediate investigation.
Jeffrey Cohen, Vice President of the Board of Trustees at Congregation Beth Israel, was one of four people held Saturday in Collyville, Texas, by Malik Faisal Akram, 44.
Akram arrived in the US in mid-December, landed at New York’s JFK airport before heading to Texas, buying a gun and taking four men captive. Akram died soon after the hostages escaped on Saturday night, leaving many unanswered questions.
Cohen wrote a long Monday Facebook After detailing the siege, and praising active shooter training for teaching him how to handle an acute situation.
Cohen, an engineer at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, said, ‘First of all, we escaped.
‘We were not released or freed. We escaped because we had training from the Secure Community Network on what to do in the event of an active shooter.
‘This training saved our lives – I’m not exaggerating here – it saved our lives.’
NASA engineer Jeffrey Cohen is among four people held hostage by a British terrorist in Texas on Saturday
Rabbis Charlie Citron-Walker and Cohen both credit their active shooter training for helping them escape.
Malik Faisal Akram, 44, died at the end of a 10-hour siege at a Texas synagogue
Cohen described the fear that he, Rabbi Charlie Citron-Walker and two others felt after the ‘calm and happy’ man they had welcomed into their synagogue – Citron-Walker poured him a cup of tea, Chatted with him before the service and introduced him to others – pulled out an automatic weapon.
He said that it is very different from the way it is portrayed in films.
Movies are scripted. Everyone knows what every other actor would do. It’s not unreal.
“On the contrary, it is quite real and realistic,” Cohen said.
Cohen said that, when confronted with a gunman, fighting back is a last resort, as he feared that others would be shot.
He said that he had thought of attacking her, but he never came close enough to her.
Cohen explained how his training allowed him to make careful decisions that might have saved his life and the lives of his fellow captives.
He wrote, ‘I keep my phone with me during services, and this was important.’
‘I quickly dialed 911 and put the phone screen down on the chair and proceeded as ordered. But not exactly as ordered. Instead of going to the back of the room, I stood in line for an exit.
SWAT teams from the Colville Police Department respond to the synagogue after emergency calls began at around 10:41 a.m. during the Sabbath service
The standoff took place in Beth Israel, a congregation in Colville, just 27 miles from Dallas
Cohen said he was mindful of the easiest way out of the building, and encouraged others to do the same.
‘Later in the day, I helped one of my friends by moving them closer to the door,’ Cohen explained.
‘Rubbing his shoulders, I whispered about the exit door.
‘Still later, when we got the pizza, I suggested to my third hostage that he bring it back to us.
We were all within 20 feet of the exit door. This proved crucial for our escape.
Cohen said he and others tried to “keep the gunmen busy,” asking questions he hoped might eventually be useful to the FBI.
Officials are still piecing together Akram’s movements and motivations, and have said little about the ongoing investigation.
He is best known for the release of Afiya Siddiqui, a female al-Qaeda terrorist who is currently serving an 86-year sentence in Texas.
Cohen said they remained calm, but by the end of the 10-hour siege the situation had deteriorated.
One of the four hostages can be seen escorting the building after 5 pm. the other three will stay in several more hours
Members of the SWAT team are seen outside the Colleyville Synagogue on Saturday
One hostage was released except for a third worshiper named Rabbi, Cohen and Shane.
“At one point our attacker instructed us to kneel down,” he said.
‘ I got up in my chair, looked at him intently. I think I slowly turned my head and said no.
‘ He looked at me, then went back to sit.
‘This was the moment Rabbi Charlie shouted.
‘Shane had a move on me. I grabbed him and pushed through the door (we were so close, that the report said only 2 people came out – we were three).
‘Going out the door, I stumbled and hit the ground. I heard my attacker opening the door. I was on the ground without my glasses, my plan going through the hedge line.
‘To be honest, I thought I was ahead of me. In fact, I was quite exposed.
‘The lesson is that just because your head is covered doesn’t mean your body isn’t completely out in the open.
‘When I heard the door shut and an officer shouted, I got up and ran.’
On Monday night, an interfaith service was held in Southlake, Texas.
White’s Chapel United Methodist Church, where a special service was being held on Monday night
Community members arrive for a healing service for the congregation Beth Israel at White’s Chapel United Methodist Church
Jawed Alam, president of the Islamic Center of Southlake, told Fort Worth Star-Telegram That Citron-Walker is a personal friend and friend of the Muslim community who has promoted peace and cooperation among all religions.
“He is a peace loving person, rabbi and Jewish leader, but a true friend of the Muslim community,” Alam said.
‘He and his family are considered part of the Muslim community, and he considers us to be part of the Jewish community.’
Alam said it was ‘unthinkable that this would happen in the synagogue of a peace-loving rabbi who has fostered inter-religious dialogue.’
Texas Senator Ted Cruz said Monday there were important unanswered questions, and called for a full investigation.
“I am grateful for the brave men and women of law enforcement who heroically freed the hostages and stopped the terrorist,” Cruz said.
‘The publicly reported details of how this terrorist carried out his ghastly anti-Semitic attack are highly worrying.
‘A thorough investigation must be completed, and anyone involved in this attack or otherwise found to be engaged in illegal activity should be brought to justice.
‘I will continue to work to make sure law enforcement has all the resources they need to get to the bottom of it.’
Fox News host Jesse Waters also sought answers on Monday.
‘Wasn’t this guy on your radar?’ Waters asked.
‘Mister President, you gave him a visa two weeks ago to come to this country. What kind of visa was this? did you check it out? Was he on the watch list?
‘Usually, the Feds are on top of all these people. And then they immediately raid England with allies or people associated with them.
‘So Scotland Yard didn’t know anything about this? MI6 had no idea about this man?’
Waters also wanted to know how a British citizen could get hold of a gun so easily.
‘This guy buys a hot gun from the street two weeks after coming here? Who is the man from whom he bought the gun?’ Waters asked.
‘They don’t even know how he died. who shot him?
‘There’s a lot of questionable talk about this story and a lot of unanswered questions. And hopefully in the next 48 hours Joe will have at least one of these answers because he should be asked about it.’
It emerged on Monday night that Akram, who was born in the northern British city of Blackburn, was once banned from his local magistrate’s court for boasting about the 9/11 attacks.
Intelligence sources on Monday night refused to confirm a report that he was on a terror watch list.
Despite a series of ‘red flag warnings’ about his behaviour, Akram was granted a tourist visa by US officials and was able to travel from New York to Texas.
Convicted criminals are usually denied entry into the United States, but Akram — who has served three prison sentences — was granted a tourist visa after lying on his application, according to Daily Telegraph,
The newspaper reported that his long criminal history dates back to 1996, when he was imprisoned for violent disorder following a baseball attack on a member of his extended family.
He was given a custodial sentence of six months, but was jailed again the following year after being found guilty of destroying property.
In 1999, he was behind bars again after pleading guilty to harassment and, after being released on licence, violated the terms of his release and was returned to prison.
His most recent stint in prison came in 2012, when he was remanded in custody on charges of stealing a phone and nearly $8,000.
However, he was later released on bail and the case against him did not progress.
But while being held at HMP Liverpool, he was reported by the prison’s imam for ‘concerning and disruptive behavior’ at Friday prayers.
Along with having a long criminal record, Akram was a regular visitor to Pakistan and was believed to be a member of the Tablighi Jamaat, an Islamic organization banned by Saudi Arabia.
In recent years he regularly participated in anti-Israel demonstrations and marches for the release of Muslim prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.
Akram’s brother, Gulbar, said he was suffering from mental health problems and questioned how he was allowed to go to the United States.
‘He knows the police. Got a criminal record. How was he allowed to get a visa and get a gun?’