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President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris responded to the hostage situation that unfolded at a synagogue in Texas on Saturday by claiming in separate statements that there was more to learn about the suspect’s motives.
The statements from the two Democrats come after a man took hostages at Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville and demanded the release of a convicted Islamic terrorist who he claimed was his sister.
“The FBI and local police said at a news conference Saturday night that three hostages who were held in a Colleyville synagogue for nearly 11 hours are unharmed and the hostage-taker is dead after a hostage rescue team breached the building,” the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. “Authorities said the hostage-taker was killed in a shooting but did not answer a question about whether he was shot by law enforcement or if the gunshot was self-inflicted.”
Biden released his statement on Saturday evening, writing:
Thanks to the courageous work of state, local and federal law enforcement, four Americans who were held hostage at a Texas synagogue will soon be home with their families. I am grateful to the tireless work of law enforcement at all levels who acted cooperatively and fearlessly to rescue the hostages. We are sending love and strength to the members of Congregation Beth Israel, Colleyville, and the Jewish community.
There is more we will learn in the days ahead about the motivations of the hostage taker. But let me be clear to anyone who intends to spread hate—we will stand against antisemitism and against the rise of extremism in this country. That is who we are, and tonight, the men and women of law enforcement made us all proud.
Harris released her statement on Sunday morning, writing:
This morning, we are grateful that four people held hostage in a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas are safe and going home to their families. We thank the brave men and women in federal, state, and local law enforcement, and we stand in solidarity with the Congregation Beth Israel community and the entire Jewish community. While we will learn more about the hostage taker’s motivation, we know this: what happened yesterday at Congregation Beth Israel is a reminder that we must speak up and combat antisemitism and hate wherever it exists. Everyone has a right to pray, work, study, and spend time with loved ones not as the other – but as us.
The suspect claimed to be the brother of convicted terrorist Aafia Siddiqui, who is currently serving an 86-year prison sentence in the U.S. for trying to kill American forces in Afghanistan. However, it appears that the suspect was not the brother of Siddiqui.
Aafia Siddiqui is “linked to al Qaeda and was convicted in 2010 of attempting to kill Americans in Afghanistan,” Foreign Policy reported. “Siddiqui … who’s known in counterterrorism circles as ‘Lady al Qaeda,’ has been linked to 9/11 ringleader Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and was once on the FBI’s most-wanted terrorists list. Educated in the United States — she studied at M.I.T. and received a doctorate from Brandeis — Siddiqui was arrested in 2008 in Afghanistan carrying sodium cyanide, as well as documents describing how to make chemical weapons and dirty bombs and how to weaponize Ebola. When FBI and military officials tried to question Siddiqui, she grabbed a weapon left on the table in her interrogation room and fired upon them.”