How was Malik Faisal Akram killed in the hostage-release operation in Texas? (Updated January 17, 2022)

Reports of the rescue of hostages and the killing of the hostage-taking gunman in Collingwood, Texas are extremely opaque as to how the hostage-taker, identified as Malik Faisal Akram, was actually killed.

Official statemeents simply say that he was dead, with absolutely no details, raising a lot if questions.

According to one report, “One hostage who had been held was released during the stand-off and the three others got out when an FBI Swat team entered the building, authorities in the US said.”

Questions raised include the following:

Why was it necessary to kill the hostage-taker?

Was he simply executed after the hostages had escaped or been released?


1) Megan Hinton, “Hostage-taking gunman killed by FBI in Texas synagogue named as Briton Malik Faisal Akram,” LBC (Leading Britain’s Conversation), January 16, 2022 (17:46, Updated 22:04);

2) Marc Fisher, Drew Harwell and Mary Beth Gahan, “‘Some people just don’t like us:’ In a Texas synagogue, 11 hours of terror,” Washington Post, Washington Post, January 16, 2022 (7:25 p.m. EST).

Hinton reports,

Confirming that the hostage-taker had died, he said there would be “an independent investigation of the shooting incident.

One hostage who had been held was released during the stand-off and the three others got out when an FBI Swat team entered the building, authorities in the US said (emphasis added).

Deep into their story, the Washington Post reporters offer the following details:

Shortly after 9 p.m., the remaining three hostages emerged from the building.

At 9:15 p.m., a side fire door at Beth Israel opened, and under the harsh white lights that police had trained on the building, a man poked his head out, his handgun preceding him out the door.

These  types of events require close scrutiny by the news media, In their first stories, both the New York Times and the Washington Post glossed over this critical point. The Post eventually offered a fewbdtails, buried in a long and discursivevaccount wgichnfocused on the backstory.

Why? Why is it necessary to have an independent investigation of “the shooting incident”.

There may logical and compelling answers to the questions raised above.

Nonetheless, one associates to the use of deadly force in the 1993 raid on the compound of David Koresh and the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas, and to the 2021 killing of Michael Reinoehl by a federal-led task force near Seattle.

The whole nation was watching the Texas hostage-taking standoff and  raid  on live television. This fact calls to mind the scene in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four when the citizens of Oceania interrupted their work to watch state security agents close in on and assassinate a notorious criminal.

What are the facts regarding the hostage release and the killing of Malik Faisal Akram, and why have they not been publicized by the authorities?

It may seem to some that, given the heinous nature of the crime, these details are unimportant. There was a similar disinterest in the details of the killing of Osama bin Laden in 2010, after he had apparently been brought under control.

These little details are important.

An entire civilization built on the rule of law depends on them.

The Trenchant Observer


Follow-up and Update
January 17, 2022


1) Jennifer Hassan and William Booth , “FBI investigating Texas synagogue attack as terrorism as U.K. takes two teens into custody,” Washington Post, January 17, 2022 (5:47 a.m. EST, Updated at 7:57 a.m. EST).

2) Megan Specia and Aina J. Khan, “Texas Synagogue Hostage Taker Had ‘Mental Health Issues,’ Brother in U.K. Says; The family of a British man who took four hostages during the standoff at Congregation Beth Israel described him as deeply troubled,” New York Times, January 17, 2022 (Updated 1:28 p.m.ETj.

Hassan and Booth report that, according to his brother, Akram had released the hostages before he was killed:

His brother Gulbar Akram said Sunday that their family was “devastated” and “do not condone any of his actions.” According to Gulbar Akram, his brother had mental health issues, although he declined to comment further in an interview with The Washington Post.

Gulbar Akram told The Post on Monday that his brother “released” all the hostages through the fire exit. “I was in the police incident room [in the Blackburn police station] working with the police, negotiators and FBI, I should know.”

Specia and Khan of the New York Times provided more details:

Gulbar Akram said he was on the phone with his brother, who went by the name Faisal, as the F.B.I. and the authorities in Texas tried to negotiate with him during the standoff on Saturday. He described a tense and emotional conversation with his brother, whom he said he had tried to talk into releasing the hostages and turning himself in as the standoff dragged on into the evening.

After all the hostages were released, Faisal Akram died, though the authorities have not provided details of how.

Interestingly, Megan Specia in London was the author of the first New York Times article on the assassination of Michael Reinoehl in Seattle on September 3, 2020.

See Megan Specia, “What We Know About the Death of the Suspect in the Portland Shooting; The suspect, Michael Forest Reinoehl, 48, was killed by law enforcement agents just five days after the deadly shooting of a right-wing protester,” New York Times, September 4, 2020


Follow-up and Update
January 18, 2022


1) Devlin Barrett, Matt Zapotosky, Jack Douglas and William Booth, “Texas synagogue attacker was fatally shot by FBI; authorities are piecing together his movements in the U.S.,” Washington Post, January 18, 2022. (8:56 a.m. EST, Updated at 6:21 p.m. EST).

The authors report the following:

The hostages escaped after an 11-hour standoff.

As soon as the hostages fled, members of the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team rushed in, using a stun grenade device to try to disorient the gunman and then fatally shooting him, according to law enforcement officials. They cautioned that the sequence of events was over in a matter of seconds and will now be the subject of an extensive review by FBI examiners.

2) Giulia Heyward, Azi Paybarah and Eileen Sullivan, “11 Hours of Fear, Negotiation and Finally, Relief; The F.B.I. identified Malik Faisal Akram, a British national, as the man who took hostages in a Texas synagogue on Saturday. He was killed during the rescue operation,” New York Times, January 18, 2022.

Heyward, Paybarah and Sullivan report two contradictory versions of the hostages release:

By around 9 p.m. the F.B.I.’s elite hostage rescue team, which had flown in from Virginia, breached the building and rescued the three remaining hostages, (Chief Michael C. Miller of the Colleyville Police Department) said at the news conference. It’s not clear what triggered the team to enter the synagogue and mount a risky operation to save the congregants.

A video from WFAA, a local news station, showed people sprinting out of the synagogue. Moments later, a man holding a gun is seen briefly at the doorway before going back inside the building. The video then shows groups of law enforcement personnel entering the building from two entrances. What sounds like gunfire and a loud blast are heard in the video.

About the Author

James Rowles
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by James Rowles (aka "The Observer"), an author and international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. Dr. Rowles is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States OAS), in Wasington, D.C., , where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, Dr. Rowles has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. Dr. Rowles speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.=LL.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, Dr. Rowles has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on some the best articles that have appeared in the blog.