Texas rabbi credits security training for hostage survival

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Texas rabbi credits security training for hostage survival

The rabbi held hostage for 10 hours in his Texas synagogue has insisted he and his congregants only managed to flee the “increasingly belligerent” terrorist thanks to regular active-shooter training.

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker — who was held Saturday along with three of his congregants — said his Congregation Beth Israel has “participated in multiple security courses,” including with local police and the FBI.

“We are alive today because of that education,” he insisted in a statement Sunday.

“In the last hour of our hostage crisis, the gunman became increasingly belligerent and threatening,” the rabbi said of British terrorist Malik Faisal Akram, who was ultimately shot dead at the end of Saturday’s ordeal.

“Without the instruction we received, we would not have been prepared to act and flee when the situation presented itself,” he insisted. “We are grateful for the outcome.”

Charlie Cytron-Walker has said that he strongly encourages other places of worship and schools to look into security measures.
Charlie Cytron-Walker has said that he strongly encourages other places of worship and schools to look into security measures.
Facebook / Charlie Cytron-Walker
Law enforcement officials gather at a local school near the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022 in Colleyville, Texas.
Law enforcement officials gather at a local school near the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue on Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022 in Colleyville, Texas.
AP Photo/Gareth Patterson

Cytron-Walker said he encouraged “all Jewish congregations, religious groups, schools, and others to participate in active-shooter and security courses.”

Thanking people for “all the love, prayers and support,” he readily acknowledged that “there is no question that this was a traumatic experience.”

Still, he insisted, “We are resilient and we will recover.”

Malik Faisal Akram (center) was shot dead by the FBI's elite Hostage Rescue Team after holding four hostages for more than 10 hours.
Malik Faisal Akram (center) was shot dead by the FBI’s elite Hostage Rescue Team after holding four hostages for more than 10 hours.
According to Texas authorities, Malik Faisal Akram demanded the release of Aafia Siddiqui a possible al-Qaida associate.
According to Texas authorities, Malik Faisal Akram demanded the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a possible al-Qaida associate.
AP Photo/ File

The synagogue’s president, Michael Finfer, also tried to reassure the Jewish community that the attack “was a random act of violence.”

“Indeed, there was a one in a million chance that the gunman picked our congregation. Further, the FBI is confirming that the attacker appeared to be working alone,” he said.

The statements came as British police confirmed that two teenagers had been detained by anti-terrorism officers in Manchester.

FBI Special Agent In Charge Matthew DeSarno speaks at a news conference near the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue on January 15, 2022,
FBI Special Agent In Charge Matthew DeSarno speaks at a news conference near the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue on January 15, 2022.
Brandon Bell/Getty Images
Police believe the attack initiated by Malik Faisal Akram was a random attack and the synagogue was chosen at random.
Police believe the attack initiated by Malik Faisal Akram was a random attack and the synagogue was chosen at random.
FBI

“They remain in custody for questioning,” Greater Manchester Police said late Sunday.

With Post wires

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