Texas man accused of selling gun to British synagogue attacker

·2-min read
Police process the scene in front of the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texaswhere Malik Faisal Akram was shot dead by the FBI (Brandon Wade/AP) (AP)
Police process the scene in front of the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texaswhere Malik Faisal Akram was shot dead by the FBI (Brandon Wade/AP) (AP)

A Texas man accused of selling a gun to the British man who held four people hostage inside a synagogue has been charged with a federal gun crime.

The Justice Department said Henry "Michael" Williams, 32, was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm after authorities say he sold the weapon Maisal Faisal Akram used when he entered Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, on January 15 and held the rabbi and three others hostage for hours before being fatally shot by the FBI.

Williams had previously been convicted of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and attempted possession of a controlled substance.

Akram, a 44-year-old British citizen, held hostages in the Dallas-area suburb while demanding the release of a federal prisoner.

The standoff ended after more than 10 hours when the rabbi threw a chair at Akram and fled with the other two remaining hostages just as an FBI tactical team was moving in. None of the hostages were injured.

Prosecutors say Williams sold Akram a semi-automatic pistol on January 13 - two days before the hostage-taking - and the pistol was recovered from the scene.

Williams initially told investigators one day after Akram was killed he recalled meeting a man with a British accent but didn’t remember his name.

During a separate interview the following week, authorities said, Williams was shown a photo of Akram and confirmed he sold him the weapon at an intersection in South Dallas.

Williams told investigators Akram told him he intended to use the gun to intimidate someone who owed an outstanding debt.

It comes after British police said they arrested another two men in Manchester as part of the investigation. They are being held for questioning and have not yet been charged.

The hostages said Akram, originally from Blackburn, cited antisemitic stereotypes, and authorities said he was demanding the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist convicted of trying to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan and who is serving a lengthy sentence in a prison near Colleyville.

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