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Texas man charged with illegally selling gun used to take hostages in synagogue

Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas
A gunman held four people hostage at Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, earlier this month.
(Brandon Wade / Associated Press)

A Texas man has been charged with a federal gun crime after authorities say he illegally sold a gun to a man who held four hostages inside a Texas synagogue earlier this month before being fatally shot by the FBI, the Justice Department said Wednesday.

Henry “Michael” Williams, 32, was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm after authorities say he sold the weapon that Malik Faisal Akram used when he entered Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, on Jan. 15 and held the synagogue’s rabbi and three others hostage for hours.

The attorney listed for Williams in court records did not immediately respond Wednesday to a phone message and email seeking comment.

Akram, a 44-year-old British citizen, held hostages in the Dallas-area suburb while demanding the release of a federal prisoner. The standoff ended after more than 10 hours when the temple’s rabbi threw a chair at Akram and fled with the other two remaining hostages just as an FBI tactical team was moving in. None of the hostages were injured.

Prosecutors say Williams sold Akram a semiautomatic pistol on Jan. 13, two days before the hostage-taking. The pistol was recovered from the scene.

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Akram paid $150 for the gun, according to charging documents, which also say that Williams was convicted in 2005 of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and attempted possession of a controlled substance in 2013.

Williams allegedly acknowledged to FBI agents that he was aware he was not allowed to have a firearm and knew selling the gun to Akram was illegal.

He initially told investigators one day after Akram was killed that he recalled meeting a man with a British accent but didn’t remember his name. During an interview the next week, authorities said, Williams was shown a photo of Akram and confirmed that he was the one to whom he sold the weapon at an intersection in south Dallas.

Williams told investigators that Akram told him he intended to use the gun to intimidate someone who owed an outstanding debt, according to authorities.

Dallas police arrested Williams on an outstanding warrant Monday.

Earlier Wednesday, British police said they arrested two other men in the investigation of the hostage-taking incident.

The counter-terrorism force Policing North West said the two men were arrested in the northern English city of Manchester. They were being held for questioning and have not yet been charged.

British police do not release names and details of detainees until they are charged.

Akram was originally from the town of Blackburn in northwest England.

The hostages said Akram cited antisemitic stereotypes, and authorities said he was demanding the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist convicted of trying to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan who is serving a lengthy sentence in a prison near Colleyville.

News reports said that Akram was investigated by MI5, the British domestic security service, in the second half of 2020, but was deemed not to be a credible threat at the time.

Tucker reported from Washington.


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