The FBI is treating the attack on a suburban Fort Worth synagogue last Saturday as “an act of terrorism targeting the Jewish community,” says agency director Christopher Wray. “This was not some random occurrence,” Wray told a webinar hosted by the Anti-Defamation League, the New York Times reports. “It was intentional, it was symbolic and we’re not going to tolerate antisemitism in this country.” The FBI had said that the attacker, a British citizen named Malik Faisal Akram, was not driven by antisemitism when he held four people hostage for 11 hours. Dallas chief FBI agent Matthew DeSarno said Akram was motivated by an issue “not specifically related to the Jewish community.”
Akram was heard referring to Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist who is serving an 86-year prison sentence in Fort Worth. Siddiqui was convicted in a federal court in 2010 for “terroristic events” in Afghanistan, including trying to kill American soldiers and plotting to blow up the Statue of Liberty. “It is very disturbing to hear from the FBI they do not believe the hostage taker’s demands had anything to do with the Jewish faith,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), said the bureau was “failing Jewish Americans.” In the webinar, Wray emphasized the FBI's’s commitment to combating antisemitic attacks. “We recognize that the Jewish community in particular has suffered violence and faces very real threats from really across the hate spectrum,” he said.