President Joe Biden condemned anti-Semitism and referred to Saturday’s hostage situation at a Texas synagogue as an “act of terror.”
The president spent part of the day Sunday volunteering with First Lady Jill Biden at non-profit Philadelphia food bank Philabundance, and he spoke briefly with reporters about the gunman who took several people hostage at Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas.
Biden calls Texas synagogue hostage situation an act of terror, adding, “I don’t think there is sufficient information to know about why he targeted that synagogue … why he was using anti-Semitic & anti-Israeli comments.”pic.twitter.com/zu3Fpk7hYM
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) January 16, 2022
“With regard to Texas and the synagogue, I spoke this morning with the attorney general, and — to get a rundown and — he said there’s overwhelming cooperation with the local authorities and the FBI,” Biden began. “They did one hell of a job. This was an act of terror. This was an act of terror, and not only was — related to someone who had been arrested, I might add, fifteen years ago and been in jail for ten years … they did just a great job.”
“I also told him that I wanted to make sure we got the word out to synagogues and places of worship that we’re not going to tolerate this, that we have this capacity to deal with assaults and particularly the anti-Semitism that has grown up,” Biden continued. “And so, and I’ll be talking with — I put a call in to the rabbi, we missed one another on the way up here. But they should rest assured that we are focused, we are focused, the attorney general is focused, on making sure that we deal with these kind of acts.”
Biden voiced his thanks for the professionalism displayed by the FBI and other officials as they managed the situation and then began their full investigation.
Biden went on to take questions from the gathered reporters, who asked how the gunman — who claimed to be the brother of Aafia “Lady of al Qaeda” Siddiqui and demanded her release — had been able to purchase the weapons he used.
“Allegedly — I don’t have all the facts, nor does the attorney general,” Biden replied. “Allegedly the assertion was he got the weapons on the street.”
Biden pivoted briefly to complain about a lack of focus on the number of guns being bought and sold in the United States, noting that it was impossible to stop person-to-person black market sales and seeming to suggest that if fewer Americans were permitted to buy their firearms legally, there would also be fewer guns on the street for criminals to buy.
“We should be — the idea of background checks are critical, but you can’t stop something like this if someone is on the street buying something from somebody else on the street,” he explained, “Except that there’s so many guns that have been sold of late, it’s just ridiculous. And it’s because of the failure of us to focus as hard as we should and as consistent as we should on gun purchases, gun sales, ghost guns, and a whole range of things that I’m trying to do.”
Biden concluded by saying that he did not have any updates on the hostage-taker’s motivation or why that particular synagogue may have bee targeted, promising to provide more information at the press conference he had planned for later in the week.