Australia/Israel Review

Unspoken truths in Texas

Jan 31, 2022 | Melanie Phillips

Scene of a siege: Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas (Source: Twitter)
Scene of a siege: Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas (Source: Twitter)

Islamist antisemitism in a synagogue attack


The Jan. 15 attack on Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, where the rabbi and three other Jews were taken hostage until they managed to escape unharmed, was shocking enough.

What has subsequently emerged, however, is even more disturbing.

The attacker, Malik Faisal Akram, was a British Muslim from the English town of Blackburn. It turns out that he was able to enter the United States two weeks earlier because of a major foul-up by Britain’s intelligence service, MI5, and the police.

In 2020, MI5 investigated Akram as a possible terrorist threat but concluded that he posed no risk and effectively closed his file.

Now Britain’s Jewish Chronicle (JC) reports that in May last year, at a meeting in Blackburn called to discuss “escalating tensions” between Israel and Gaza, Akram declared in a diatribe that Jews needed to be punished and should be “bombed”. A locally elected politician who attended the meeting was so concerned by this that he told the police. To his astonishment, he heard no more about it.

The JC has also obtained a recording of the phone call during the Colleyville siege between Akram and his brother, Gulbar, who was trying to persuade him to surrender.

Colleyville gunman and Islamist antisemite Malik Faisal Akram

On the recording, Akram ranted and raved against America. Rambling semi-coherently about American involvement in overseas conflicts, he said: “Why do these f***ing motherf*****s 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.”

Clearly, British intelligence has much to answer for. But there’s also the question of how Akram was allowed into America in the first place. For he had a long criminal history, which included jail terms for harassment, theft and attacking a cousin with a baseball bat.

Yet he was able to enter the United States as a tourist, presumably by lying about his criminal record on his entry form, and he was able to obtain a gun there.

In both Britain and America, the security agencies have allowed themselves to become increasingly focused on a reportedly rising threat from white supremacism. But the overwhelming threat to the West comes from Islamist extremism.

The security establishment is reflecting a wider state of denial. In both countries, the political, media and cultural establishment has blocked itself from acknowledging the true nature and extent of Islamist radicalisation.

People have allowed themselves to become either persuaded or intimidated by the designation of all such acknowledgment as Islamophobic – the catch-all denunciation of any adverse comment about Islam or the Muslim world. While terrorist attacks by lone white supremacists provoke instant claims of a dangerous cultural trend, terrorist attacks by lone Islamists tend to provoke instead the claim that the perpetrator was mentally ill and therefore his actions had no wider significance.

Thus, Akram has been widely reported as having had serious mental health problems. Yet the JC talked to his former doctor, who said Akram had been “a confident man who didn’t need any mental help” and had no mental health complaints in his medical notes.

It’s important to acknowledge that most Muslims have no truck with anti-Western or anti-Jewish attitudes. After the Colleyville synagogue attack, some courageous Muslims have spoken out against antisemitism in their community.

A Duke University professor, Abdullah T. Antepli, said members of his faith had a “moral call for action for the soul of Islam and Muslim” to address the hatred towards Jews.

Nevertheless, antisemitic attitudes and attacks on Jews are disproportionately far higher among Muslims than among the rest of the population in the UK. 

In early January, Tahra Ahmed – a volunteer during London’s 2017 Grenfell Tower apartment block fire disaster that claimed the lives of 72 people – was convicted of stirring up racial hatred.

In two Facebook posts, she referred to the fire’s victims as “burnt alive in a Jewish sacrifice.” She said: “Jews have always been the ones behind ritual torture, crucifixion and murder of children, especially young boys, as a way of atoning for their sins in order to be allowed back into Palestine.”

People in Britain have been shocked and horrified to learn what she said. They are shocked because no discussion of Muslim antisemitism is generally allowed. 

This is also true in America, where a recent report by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) asserted that mainstream Jewish and allied charities were spreading “Islamophobia” by opposing radical Islamic terror.

Numerous Islamist terrorists have made it clear that, in attacking the West, their most fundamental target is the Jews. At war against modernity, they believe that behind modernity stand the Jews – who they think are behind everything in the world that the Islamists have decided is bad.

This doesn’t mean every Muslim antisemite will turn into a terrorist. But it does mean that virtually every Muslim terrorist is an antisemite.

Antisemitism doesn’t just endanger the Jews. It is the marker for Islamic extremism. Until this is realised, the West will continually fail to understand the threat it faces.

Melanie Phillips, a British journalist, broadcaster and author, writes a weekly column for the Jewish News Service (JNS) and is a columnist for the Times of London. Her personal and political memoir, Guardian Angel, has been published by Bombardier. ©, reprinted by permission, all rights reserved. 


Who Is Aafia Siddiqui?

Tarek Fatah

Until the Jan. 15 hostage-taking at a Texas synagogue, few Americans had heard the name of convicted terrorist Aafia Siddiqui, a 49-year-old Pakistan-born scientist serving an 86-year sentence in a federal penitentiary near Fort Worth.

The daughter of an English-trained, Pakistani doctor, Siddiqui attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and earned a Ph.D. from Brandeis University.

“While a student in Boston, Massachusetts, Siddiqui had undertaken training and instruction on the handling and shooting of firearms,” the FBI said in a 2010 statement. Siddiqui also volunteered with the Muslim Students Association (MSA), a network of Islamist students across North American schools and universities. They proselytise Islam and are accused of following the Muslim Brotherhood agenda of Islamising the West from within.

Siddiqui lived in the United States from roughly 1991 to June 2002 and returned to Pakistan for about a week beginning Dec. 25, 2002, federal prosecutors said. After the 9/11 attack, Siddiqui apparently became radicalised, and divorced her husband who was in the US completing his studies. She disappeared with their three children.

She later married a nephew of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. By 2008 US officials were calling her a wanted terrorist and she was arrested inside Afghanistan and accused of attacking American law-enforcement personnel who went to interview her there.

The Americans claim that during her arrest, she grabbed a rifle and shot at US soldiers, one of whom shot back and injured her. She was charged in a New York federal court with attempted murder and armed assault on US officers.

Siddiqui is actually a celebrity in Pakistan and among some Muslim groups across the West. She is the icon of Islamists who are steeped in Jew hatred and mostly originate in Pakistan and other South Asian countries where “son of a Jew” is a common slur.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan is one of her champions and his party’s manifesto explicitly declares her innocent of any crime, designating the convicted terrorist as the “Daughter of the Nation.”

US President Joe Biden called the hostage standoff in a Texas synagogue an act of terror. Speaking in Philadelphia on Jan. 16, he also said the hostage-taker, identified as British national Malik Faisal Akram, purchased weapons on the street.

Profiling jihadi terrorists, former CIA terrorism expert Robert Baer told CNN: “In their mind, Israel is a Western conspiracy, an American conspiracy and the Jewish community in the United States and around the world is somehow responsible for this.”

Siddiqui was one of those people. She has a long history of antisemitic statements – even though she studied for an advanced degree at a university closely tied to the Jewish community.

In 2009, while awaiting trial on charges that she tried to kill American servicemen, Siddiqui tried to fire her lawyers because of their Jewish background. Siddiqui later demanded that jurors in her trial be DNA tested to prove they weren’t Jewish.

“If they have a Zionist or Israeli background, they are all mad at me,” she said. “They should be excluded if you want to be fair.”

Since her capture and conviction, she has been a symbol and rallying cry to extremist Muslims worldwide, many of whom echo the delusional antisemitic theories she promoted.

No wonder the Pakistani Briton who took hostages to free Siddiqui chose to target a synagogue and not any ordinary meeting centre.

Tarek Fatah is a Robert J. and Abby B. Levine Fellow at the Middle East Forum, a founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress, and a columnist at the Toronto Sun. Reprinted from the Toronto Sun. © Middle East Forum, reprinted by permission, all rights reserved. 


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