In the wake of the turbulence surrounding the 15 January 2022 Texas synagogue attack, it may be useful to take a step backward to review those events from a broader strategic perspective.
John Guandolo at Understanding the Threat has done an excellent job explaining how this attack fits into the overall Islamic Movement jihad campaign against Western Civilization and the United States Constitutional Republic and the Jewish people in particular.
Here, though, let us focus on the particular involvement of two international aspects: the Tablighi Jama’at Islamic revivalist/missionary organization and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency.
First, the event itself: from what we know as of this writing, a Pakistani jihadi with British citizenship named Malik Faisal Akram entered the Reform Jewish Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, TX (a Dallas-Ft. Worth suburb) around 10:40 the morning of 15 January 2022 during Shabbat services. The shul’s prayer and services schedule is helpfully posted online at its monthly calendar page.
Services were being livestreamed for the benefit of congregation members praying from home, so much of the event and subsequent 10-hour stand-off with law enforcement was captured on audio, although apparently not on video.
Akram initially approached the closed front doors of the synagogue and was let in by Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, affectionately known by his congregation as ‘Rabbi Charlie”. At first Rabbi Charlie didn’t suspect anything untoward, but interrupting Shabbat services, decided to make tea for Akram. In a 17 Jan 2022 interview with CBS News, Rabbi Charlie recounted the moment when things turned terrifying.
Reportedly, Akram pulled a gun and made claims about bombs. According to a portion of the synagogue livestream broadcast obtained by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Akram is heard saying, “I’ve got these prisoners” and “I am going to die.” While his key spoken demand was the release from U.S. federal prison of the Pakistani jihadi known as “Lady Al-Qa’eda” – true name, Aafia Siddiqui – that was but a pretext for a broader objective. Akram claimed that he and Siddiqui would be “going to Jannah (Muslim belief of heaven) after he sees her,” according to a statement from the FBI on Saturday night.
The fact that UK police and counterterrorism officials are assisting their U.S. counterparts in the investigation does indicate that the overall investigation extends internationally.
At the same time, comments such as made by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on Sunday 16 Jan 22, who said that it was “too soon to tell” if the Texas synagogue hostage situation was part of a “broader extremist threat” and that they were looking into “what this person’s motives were and whether or not there are any further connections” demonstrate just how far we yet have to go.