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FBI Calls Hostage Incident At Colleyville Synagogue 'Act Of Terrorism' Against Jewish Community

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - FBI Director Christopher Wray called Saturday's hostage situation at Colleyville synagogue Congregation Beth Israel "an act of terrorism" against the Jewish community.

He and one of the hostages, Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, spoke during a virtual event put on by the Anti-Defamation League.

The webinar was called, "Fighting Hate from Home - Lessons from a Hostage Crisis."

FBI Director Wray pledged to thoroughly, aggressively and vigorously investigate the attack on Saturday, Jan. 15.

"Let me be clear and blunt," said Wray. "The FBI is and has been treating Saturday's events as an act of terrorism targeting the Jewish community."

Wray said agents are continuing to investigate why the British National specifically targeted Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville and held Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, Jeffrey Cohen, and two other congregants at gunpoint.

But during the webinar, Wray spoke about a broader truth.

"This was not some random occurrence,"  he said. "It was intentional. It was symbolic and we are not going to tolerate antisemitism in this country... No member of a faith-based community should have to worry about acts of violence at their services."

"I didn't have a lot of suspicions," said Rabbi Cytron-Walker.

The rabbi described what the man was like initially after he and another congregant allowed the man inside.

But that changed when their hostage-taker held them at gunpoint and placed his first demand: calling another rabbi whose name he had read about.

The rabbi said the man believed in antisemitic tropes and that they as Jews could help win the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a woman serving an 86-year sentence at a federal prison in Fort Worth for attempting to murder U.S. soldiers.

"I was thinking this guy really believes that Jews controlled the world," said Rabbi Cytron-Walker. "That's why he specifically targeted a synagogue."

He was asked what comes next.

"It's going to be one step at a time for us. We're doing the best we can to heal," he said.

The rabbi described the special service held Monday as very healing, and he said that there will be religious services on Saturday.

He has been praised for his work with local leaders of other faiths, and he and other Jewish leaders expressed how important it is to continue building bridges with the greater community.

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