‘Let them go,’ Aafia Siddiqui’s attorney says in video for Colleyville synagogue gunman

·2 min read
Brandon Wade/AP

The attorney for a woman whose imprisonment appears to have motivated the man who took hostages at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville made a video for the man, urging the release of the hostages.

But it is unclear whether he saw the video.

The gunman, identified by the FBI as 44-year-old Malik Faisal Akram of Great Britain, demanded release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist who was convicted in 2010 on charges related to the attempted murder and assault of United States officers and employees in Afghanistan.

In the 43-second video, Plano attorney Marwa Elbially says Siddiqui is a very strong woman of faith who believes in the legal justice system. She is being held at Federal Medical Center Carswell.

“She believes that she will get her justice through the American legal system,” Elbially said. “She does not want anybody to do anything to harm anyone. She’s been through a lot over these years, and I can tell you, since I know her well at this point, that she would want you to immediately release those innocent human beings. She would want you to not do anything to harm anyone. Please let them go.”

Elbially said she sent a copy of the video at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday to Faizan Syed, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in DFW, a chapter of the national Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization. Syed said he shared the video with Omar Suleiman, the founder and president of the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research in Irving, who confirmed he forwarded it to law enforcement.

“I just wanted to do anything I could to make sure that everybody was out of there safely,” Elbially said, adding she’s sure Siddiqui, “would have done the same.”

A spokesperson for the FBI’s Dallas Office declined to comment on whether the video was used, citing the pending investigation.

The FBI’s National Office late Sunday said that during negotiations the hostage-taker “spoke repeatedly” about Siddiqui, though the agency didn’t use her name in the statement.

“This is a terrorism-related matter, in which the Jewish community was targeted, and is being investigated by the Joint Terrorism Task Force,” the statement reads. “Preventing acts of terrorism and violence is the number one priority of the FBI. Due to the continuing investigation we are unable to provide more details at this time.”