Rabbi of Congregation Beth-Israel: “Grateful to be alive”

The good news is that all of the hostages, including the rabbi of Congregation Beth-Israel, are alive and safe. The bad news is that a deranged British national entered the synagogue during Shabbat services and held the men hostage while demanding the release of convicted terrorist Aafia Siddiqui, known as Lady al-Qaeda. Today Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker released a statement of gratitude for being alive in a Facebook post.

I am thankful and filled with appreciation for
All of the vigils and prayers and love and support,
All of the law enforcement and first responders who cared for us,
All of the security training that helped save us.
I am grateful for my family.
I am grateful for the CBI Community, the Jewish Community, the Human Community.
I am grateful that we made it out.
I am grateful to be alive.

The synagogue was chosen by the hostage-taker in Colleyville due to its proximity to DFW airport, according to two people who listened to the live stream of Shabbat services which were interrupted by the man. Services have been live streamed during the pandemic. The feed continued Saturday morning after the man began his act of terrorism against the hostages. The Dallas Morning-News reports that the service began at 10:00 a.m. and the live stream feed continued until about 2:00 p.m. before it was cut.

Meanwhile, a member of the synagogue’s congregation who was watching the Facebook livestream as the situation unfolded, said the hostage-taker said he had flown 5,000 miles into the Dallas-Fort Worth airport prior to taking people captive at the synagogue.

The man said he had chosen the synagogue because it was closest to the airport, Stacey Silverman told CNN. Silverman said the man was spouting “hateful rhetoric.”

“He blames the Jews, you know, for everything that’s going on in the world and just hateful, hateful language,” she said.

“He said he had a gun. He said he had a bomb. He said, you know, he wouldn’t let people go until his sister was released from this prison… He was adamant, and then he would vacillate and say, he is not a bad person. He doesn’t want to hurt anyone, but his sister is not a terrorist.”

Victoria Francis, a Texas resident who watched about an hour of the livestream before it cut out, told the Associated Press that she said she heard the man rant against America and claim he had a bomb.

“He was just all over the map,” Francis said. “He was pretty irritated and the more irritated he got, he’d make more threats, like ‘I’m the guy with the bomb. If you make a mistake, this is all on you.’ And he’d laugh at that. He was clearly in extreme distress.”

Multiple law enforcement agencies took part during the hostage situation, with the FBI seeming to take the lead. Eleven hours later, the hostages were all free and safe and the terrorist was dead.

Nearly 200 law enforcement officials responded to the synagogue, including the North Tarrant Regional SWAT Team, Dallas SWAT team and the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team, who flew to Colleyville from Quantico, Va.

FBI negotiators were in constant contact with the hostage-taker throughout the day, officials said.

By late afternoon, several emergency vehicles — including ambulances, firetrucks and armored police trucks — were staged at Colleyville Middle School, about a quarter-mile down the road from the synagogue.

Shortly after 5 p.m., authorities were seen bringing a man in black yarmulke out of the building.

A loud bang was heard at the synagogue just after 9 p.m. Authorities said that was around the time that the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team breached the building.

I refer to the gunman as a terrorist but the FBI does not. Why is that? The FBI spokesman called him a gunman and refused to speak about motive or any other specifics from the attack. It’s understandable that some details are being held because the investigation is active but clearly this was an anti-Semitic attack on a synagogue, one that was holding religious services. FBI Special Agent in Charge Matt DeSarno addressed the media after the hostages were released. He said that he didn’t believe it was an anti-Semitic attack because the terrorist was focused on one issue – the release of the jihadi terrorist. What?

Aafia Siddiqui is serving 86 years in prison for plotting a large-scale jihad massacre in New York City. She is incarcerated at Carswell Air Force Base near Fort Worth. Are you telling me that a man who called her his sister, a Muslim with ties to al-Qaida, just happened to stumble upon a synagogue without targeting it? The description he used, that she was his sister, is likely a figure of speech. Her brother is said to have not been in the DFW area. A spokesperson for CAIR in Houston released a statement about that claim.

But Siddiqui’s brother, Mohammad Siddiqui, was not involved, John Floyd, board chair for the Houston chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, has confirmed.

“This assailant has nothing to do with Dr. Aafia, her family, or the global campaign to get justice for Dr. Aafia. We want the assailant to know that his actions are wicked and directly undermine those of us who are seeking justice for Dr. Aafia,” Floyd, who is also Mohammad Siddiqui’s legal counsel, said in a statement.

“We have confirmed that the family member being wrongly accused of this heinous act is not near the DFW Metro area.”

I don’t know why the FBI refuses to call a terrorist a terrorist. The Biden administration is happy to label parents as domestic terrorists when they get involved in the education of their children. The FBI looks hesitant to say something that to the rest of us is apparent. The guy was blaming the Jews for everything and that was heard on the live stream. He didn’t choose to go to a Christian church or another place of worship to denounce Jews. He went to a synagogue. He knew its location from the airport. Clearly, the guy had a plan and flew “5,000 miles” to carry it out. The FBI agent was only willing to call him a gunman. He didn’t say if the man even had a gun or any weapons.

The Biden administration initially didn’t do any better in sending out the message that Biden was aware of the situation as it unfolded. Jen Psaki posted a tweet that didn’t even mention it was in a synagogue, only calling the hostage situation in “the Dallas area”.

Later Biden released a statement and as of Sunday morning as I write this, I don’t find it on his Twitter feed. Psaki released it late last night.

Well, Joe’s having another weekend in Delaware so he’s doing other things. There isn’t a tweet about it on Kamala’s Twitter feed, either.

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