The disturbing 11-and-a-half minute audio recording, obtained from a security source, reveals a conversation between Akram and his brother, Gulbar, 43, who was speaking from a police station in Blackburn in an attempt to persuade him to surrender.
In a semi-coherent ramble about American conflicts overseas, the terrorist said: “Why do these f***ing motherf***ers come to our countries, rape our women and f*** our kids? I’m setting a precedent… maybe they’ll have compassion for f***ing Jews.”
When urged by Gulbar to end the siege, do time in prison and come back to his family, Akram shouted that he had been “praying to Allah for two years for this” and intended to die. “I’d rather live one day as a lion than 100 years as a jackal,” he said.
“I’m going to go toe-to-toe with [police] and they can shoot me dead … I’m coming home in a body bag.”
He added: “I promised my brother on his deathbed that I’d go down a martyr.” One of his younger brothers died three months ago, reportedly from Covid.
And as soon as it was over, the media were quick to forget the story, Eve Barlow writes:
The news of this incident broke as it was happening, spread by Jewish media outlets and Jewish activists on social media. As is typical for the Jewish news cycle, when mainstream media picked up the story, they doubted its authenticity. The BBC, Guardian and Telegraph all reported the situation with quotation marks around the word ‘hostage’, because apparently it wasn’t obvious enough that this was a hostage situation. Associated Press wrote: ‘Hostages apparently taken at Texas synagogue’.
The news did not make the front page of the New York Times the next day. It didn’t receive nearly as much coverage on rolling televised news as such events warrant. Why? It has no political use. It’s not on the agenda. The hostage-taker Malik Faisal Akram – shot dead in the standoff with police and SWAT teams – wasn’t a white supremacist nor a neo-Nazi. He was avenging a Jihadi serving an 86-year sentence, who at her trial had asked that there be no Zionists or Israelis on her jury.
As for Twitter pundits, where the previous week people with zero interest in Jew hate were laying into JK Rowling over the question of whether or not her depiction of goblins in Harry Potter was antisemitic, causing it to trend with a hashtag. During this desperate moment for Jewish Americans? Crickets. The opportunists who used Jewish victimhood to attack a now controversial public figure had no business with this more prescient instance of antisemitism. Disappointing doesn’t cover the angering sense of betrayal and abuse.
The message was loud. Nobody cared. If they did, they were actively trying to minimise or justify the attack. Some blue tick voices made it about the Islamophobia that may or may not result from a scenario in which a terrorist was potentially going to kill four innocent Jews. Only a month prior to this, Zahra Billoo, the Executive Director of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), had given a spine-chilling speech in which she warned against ‘Zionist synagogues’ and other Zionist organisations as ‘enemies’.
It’s evil that people have a hard time naming an attack on a synagogue an act of antisemitism. Wonder why a Muslim extremist would hold a rabbi hostage at gun point and force him to call another rabbi in a faraway state believing that other rabbi had some institutional power to free an imprisoned terrorist? It is because that terrorist believed Jews wield such power. It is because that terrorist spread the oldest antisemitic tropes. The terrorist didn’t walk into a Starbucks. He walked into a synagogue. If this had been a Black church or an LGBTQ+ nightclub, there’d have been no question calling the act what it was. But Jews are not granted the same ferocious collective protection.
Just think of the media as Democratic Party operatives with bylines, and the story’s burial makes sense. In addition to there being no political use to the left, the media don’t want to remind voters, especially after Biden’s Afghanistan debacle, that, as Rabbi Michael Barclay writes, “It is a reality that there are wolves at the door.”