US: Rabbi held hostage by gunman leads prayer service at Texas synagogue

Gunfire, Explosions Rock Texas Synagogue: Rabbi Among Hostages

  Gunfire, Explosions Rock Texas Synagogue: Rabbi Among Hostages There have been reports of an explosion, followed by gunshot sounds from the Dallas-area synagogue.The sounds that rocked the Colleyville synagogue sounded like a mix of gunfire and an explosion, according to multiple reports.

The Texas rabbi who threw a chair at a gunman to help himself and two others survive a hostage situation held a prayer service in the wake of the deadly ordeal.

Just two days after a gun-wielding suspect took Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker and two other congregants hostage at the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, the rabbi lead a service aimed to "put this terrible event behind us and be thankful for a good result," according to a post on the synagogue's Facebook page.

MORE: Timeline of synagogue hostage standoff sheds light on suspect's travel in US

Cytron-Walker began the service by describing both the beauty and cruelty that exist on Earth.

FBI identifies British national as Texas synagogue hostage-taker

  FBI identifies British national as Texas synagogue hostage-taker The FBI has identified the gunman who held hostages at a Texas synagogue for over 10 hours as a British national named Malik Faisal Akram.According to Matthew DeSarno, special agent in charge of the FBI's Dallas Field Office, Akram, 44, appears to be the only one who was involved in the hostage-taking on Saturday at the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas.All the hostages being held in the synagogue were freed on Saturday evening, with no injuries reported. The gunman, now known to be Akram, was killed though authorities have not disclosed the cause of death.The hostage situation started around 10:30 a.m.

"God, I long to feel your presence -- not just this day but every day," the rabbi said. "I do not pretend to know your ways."

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker leads a healing service with Congregation Beth Israel in Southlake, Texas, Jan. 17, 2022. Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker leads a healing service with Congregation Beth Israel in Southlake, Texas, Jan. 17, 2022.

Congregants gathered at the healing service, many in masks and spaced several seats apart. Several took to the stage to sing prayer songs in Hebrew.

Cytron-Walker also evoked Martin Luther King Jr., quoting the civil rights activists on the holiday dedicated to him.

MORE: Texas rabbi recounts hostage ordeal escape: 'I threw a chair at the gunman'

"Without love, there's no reason to know anyone," Cytron-Walker said. "For love will in the end connect us to our neighbors, our children and our hearts."

Hostage Taking in a TEXAS synagogue: What we know about this "act of terrorism"

 Hostage Taking in a TEXAS synagogue: What we know about this © Valery Ax The four selected hostage in the synagogue of the Congregation Beth Israel have all been released. Brandon Bell / Getty Images / AFP If a tragedy has been avoided by American law enforcement, the subject is taken very seriously. In the aftermath of the hostage taking in a Colleyville synagogue (about 23,000 inhabitants, about 40 km from Dallas), in Texas, the US authorities launched an "international" survey on the lessee.

A healing service is held by Congregation Beth Israel in Southlake, Texas, Jan. 17, 2022. A healing service is held by Congregation Beth Israel in Southlake, Texas, Jan. 17, 2022.

The rabbi was preparing for Shabbat services on Saturday when the suspect, identified by the FBI as 44-year-old British citizen Malik Faisal Akram, knocked on a window of the temple. The Rabbi invited Akram in for tea, and heard the click of a gun during the Shabbat service, which was attended by only a handful of congregants. He and three other male congregants were initially taken hostage, but Akram freed one of them.

Cytron-Walker told the others to run before throwing the chair at Akram after the suspect grew visibly frustrated and belligerent that his demands were not being met, the rabbi said. Cytron-Walker and other members of the congregation had previously taken active shooter drills from the Colleyville Police Department, the FBI, the Anti-Defamation League and a local group called the Secure Community Network.

Timeline sheds light on what synagogue standoff suspect did in US

  Timeline sheds light on what synagogue standoff suspect did in US A family friend claims Malik Faisal Akram had a history of mental health issues. The suspect, Malik Faisal Akram, 44, reportedly took a flight from London to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on Dec. 29 and listed a hotel in Queens, New York, as his local address on a customs form, the sources said.

MORE: Texas rabbi 'grateful to be alive' as synagogue hostage-taking suspect ID'd

Akram was shot and killed by an elite FBI hostage rescue team who breached the synagogue.

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker leads a healing service with Congregation Beth Israel in Southlake, Texas, Jan. 17, 2022. Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker leads a healing service with Congregation Beth Israel in Southlake, Texas, Jan. 17, 2022.

Cytron-Walker said in an interview with CBS News Monday morning that he was looking forward to returning to his house of worship, describing it as a crucial step in the healing process.

"It won't necessarily be an easy thing," he said, "but it's a really important thing."

MORE: Standoff at Texas synagogue ends with all hostages safe, suspect dead

ABC News' Bill Hutchinson contributed to this report.

Why FBI Assigned Both 'Hate Crime' and 'Terrorism' to Texas Synagogue Attack .
The FBI had previously called the hostage situation "a terrorism-related matter" that targeted the Jewish community. However, DeSarno added that they were also treating Akram's actions as a hate crime.Akram, 44, took four people hostage at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville while demanding the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani associate of al-Qaeda serving an 86-year prison sentence in Texas for attempted murder. Akram, a British national, held at least three of the hostages within the synagogue for 11 hours before being killed by an FBI team that breached the building.

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