Media Framing Differs as Details Emerge From Texas Synagogue Hostage Situation

Headline Roundup January 17th, 2022

A hostage situation over the weekend at a Texas synagogue that left the hostage-taker dead divided media coverage across the spectrum.

The hostage-taker at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas on Saturday was identified as Malik Faisal Akram, a 44-year-old British national. During the 11-hour standoff, Akram took a rabbi and three others hostage, and reportedly demanded the release of Pakistani scientist and alleged al-Qaeda member Aafia Siddiqui, who was convicted in 2010 of plotting to kill U.S. service members in Afghanistan. Akram was killed following the standoff, and the hostages emerged unharmed. President Joe Biden called the incident "an act of terror." Akram reportedly arrived in the U.S. two weeks ago, spending his first night in a homeless shelter before illegally acquiring his firearm. An FBI agent originally said Akram was “singularly focused on one issue” not related to Jewish community, but the FBI later stated that "This is a terrorism-related matter, in which the Jewish community was targeted."

Coverage from right-rated sources often focused more on the terrorism angle and criticism of the FBI's original statement implying that the Jewish community wasn't targeted. Some reports from left- and center-rated sources implied that the hostages escaped or were released by Akram rather than rescued by authorities, and highlighted Akram's history of mental health issues and his family's condemnation of his actions. Some coverage across the spectrum highlighted how the rabbi credited past security training for getting himself and others out safely.

From the Left
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BLACKBURN, England — The British man named by the F.B.I. as the person who took four people hostage at a Texas synagogue on Saturday had serious mental health issues and arguably should not have been able to travel to America at all, his brother said in an interview on Monday.

Malik Faisal Akram, 44, from Blackburn in northwestern England, was killed after an 11-hour standoff with the police and law enforcement officers at the Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, near Fort Worth, the F.B.I. said.

His brother Gulbar Akram described him...

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From the Center
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The FBI on Sunday identified the hostage-taker in the standoff at a Colleyville synagogue as Malik Faisal Akram, a 44-year-old British citizen.

Akram — who could be heard speaking during a livestream that broadcast a portion of the 11-hour standoff — died Saturday night after a hostage rescue team breached the building. The four hostages were unharmed.

Authorities said Saturday that Akram 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. The man claimed...

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From the Right
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The FBI said late Sunday that it is investigating the taking of hostages at a Texas synagogue a day prior as a “terrorism-related matter.”

“This is a terrorism-related matter, in which the Jewish community was targeted, and is being investigated by the Joint Terrorism Task Force,” the bureau said.

Malik Faisal Akram, 44, a British national, stormed inside the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, interrupting services and taking four hostages, authorities have said.

On a livestream, he was heard demanding the release of Pakistani-born Aafia Siddiqui, a neuroscientist who is serving an 86-year prison sentence after...

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