Law enforcement investigate the hostage incident at Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, on Sunday. Photo by Ralph Lauer/EPA-EFE
Jan. 17 (UPI) -- The FBI said Monday it is now investigating the hostage crisis at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, as a terrorist incident after earlier avoiding using that language.
In a statement issued to the New York Daily News, the bureau referred to the standoff as "a terrorism-related matter, in which the Jewish community was targeted, and is being investigated by the Joint Terrorism Task Force. We never lose sight of the threat extremists pose to the Jewish community and to other religious, racial, and ethnic groups."
The four hostages were eventually safely following the 11-hour incident at Congregation Beth Israel, which is located in Colleyville in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.
The suspect, identified by the FBI on Sunday as Malik Faisal Akram, died at the scene, but authorities have not elaborated on the cause of death.
The 44-year-old Malik Faisal Akram was identified as a British national Sunday.
Malik Faisal Akram allegedly demanded the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist with suspected ties to al-Qaida who is currently in a Texas prison, according to the New York Post.
Sidiqui is serving an 86-year sentence for trying to kill U.S. soldiers, reports The Washington Post.
Malik Faisal Akram's brother told a British news outlet he was shocked Malik Faisal Akram was able to enter the United States and purchase a gun. He also said his brother had a criminal record.
"He's known to police. Got a criminal record. How was he allowed to get a visa and acquire a gun," said Gulbar Akram, according to the Manchester Evening News.
Gulbar Akram also said he was on the phone for hours with his brother during the siege, trying to negotiate a peaceful ending.
"There was nothing we could have said to him or done that would have convinced him to surrender," he told Sky News, while also telling the publication his brother was suffering from mental illness.
Meanwhile, the rabbi at the center of the siege says he is grateful to be alive.
Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who was held along with three of his congregants, thanked everyone involved with ending the standoff.
"I am thankful and filled with appreciation for All of the vigils and prayers and love and support, All of the law enforcement and first responders who cared for us, All of the security training that helped save us," Cytron-Walker wrote on Facebook on Sunday.
"I am grateful for my family. I am grateful for the CBI Community, the Jewish Community, the Human Community. I am grateful that we made it out. I am grateful to be alive."