Feds accuse Texas man of selling gun used to take hostages

Southwest

Police stand in front of the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue, Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022, in Colleyville, Texas. A man held hostages for more than 10 hours Saturday inside the temple. The hostages were able to escape and the hostage taker was killed. FBI Special Agent in Charge Matt DeSarno said a team would investigate “the shooting incident.” (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

DALLAS (AP) — A Texas man has been charged with a federal gun crime after authorities say he sold a gun to a man who held four hostages inside a Texas synagogue earlier this month before being fatally shot by the FBI, the Justice Department said Wednesday.

Henry “Michael” Williams, 32, was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm after authorities say he sold the weapon that Malik Faisal Akram used when he entered Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, on Jan. 15 and held the synagogue’s rabbi and three others hostage for hours.

This undated booking photo provided by the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office shows Henry “Michael” Williams. Williams, 32, was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm after authorities say he sold the weapon that Malik Faisal Akram used when he entered Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, on Jan. 15 and held the synagogue’s rabbi and three others hostage for hours. (Dallas County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

The attorney listed for Williams in court records did not immediately respond Wednesday to a phone message and email seeking comment from The Associated Press.

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 temple’s 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 Jan. 13 — two days before the hostage-taking. The pistol was recovered from the scene.

Akram paid $150 for the gun, according to charging documents. The documents state Williams was convicted in 2005 of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and attempted possession of a controlled substance in 2013.

Williams allegedly acknowledged to investigators that he was aware he was not allowed to have a firearm and knew selling the gun to Akram was illegal.

He told FBI agents in an interview one day after the hostage crisis that he recalled meeting a man with a British accent but didn’t remember his name. During a separate interview this week, authorities said, Williams was shown a photo of Akram and this time confirmed that he sold Akram the weapon at an intersection in South Dallas.

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

Dallas police arrested Williams on an outstanding warrant Monday, and he told federal investigators that he sold the gun to Akram after being read his rights, according to charging documents.

Earlier Wednesday, British police said they arrested another two men in the investigation into the hostage-taking incident. The counter-terrorism force Policing North West did not disclose details about the two men arrested in the northern English city of Manchester but said they were being held for questioning and had not yet been charged with a crime.

On Jan. 20, British police had detained two other men in the cities of Birmingham and Manchester for questioning as part of the same investigation. The men were released with no further action. And two British teenagers were also detained earlier in Manchester and released without charge. The teens were Akram’s sons, two U.S. law enforcement officials have told AP.

Akram was originally from the town of Blackburn in northwest England.

The hostages said Akram cited antisemitic stereotypes, and authorities said Akram 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.

British media reported that Akram was investigated by MI5, the domestic security service, in the second half of 2020, but was deemed not to be a credible threat at the time.

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