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Suspect In Texas Hostage Situation Called New York City Rabbi Twice During Standoff

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- We're learning new details about Saturday's hostage situation at a Texas synagogue and the ties to a rabbi in New York City.

Saturday morning as Sabbath services were underway at the Beth Israel Congregation in Colleyville, Texas, outside of Dallas, prayers were interrupted by a gunman who took four people hostage, including the rabbi.

"It was like, oh my God, it's, it's happening again. You know, uh, uh, being there on the ground personally for Jersey City and for Monsey ... It's just another tremendous act of hate towards the Jewish community," said Evan Bernstein, CEO of Community Security Service.

After 11 hours, the FBI stormed the synagogue and freed those being held, while the suspect, 44-year-old British national Malik Faisal Akram, was killed.

During the standoff, the agency says he wanted to see the release of Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui, who is serving prison time in Texas for shooting at U.S. soldiers and FBI agents.

As CBS2's Lisa Rozner reports, New York City's Central Synagogue confirms on Saturday during the standoff, Akram called their rabbi, Angela Buchdahl, twice.

Buchdahl is a leader in Reform Judaism, and Akram reportedly wanted to use her influence to release Siddiqui.

The rabbi declined to do an interview, but an email to the congregation stated she had no prior connection to the gunman. It also said she immediately contacted law enforcement and followed their directions.

After the FBI stormed the synagogue and killed the gunman, Buchdahl shared on Instagram the Texas governor's announcement Saturday night that the hostages were alive and safe. She wrote, "It so rarely ends like this. I am weeping."

There were extra police outside Central Synagogue on Lexington Avenue on Sunday.

A short distance away, at Temple Emanu-El on the Upper East Side, people of all faiths gathered for a special prayer service.

Rabbi Joshua Davidson knows Buchdahl and has met the rabbi in Texas.

"I'm greatly relieved, although that relief is mixed with anxiety that our houses of worship aren't the safe places we would hope them to be," he said.

The rabbi in Texas says he and the other hostages are alive due to active shooter and security courses the congregation took over the years.

Organizations in our area have been calling on Congress to increase funding for security at synagogues.

"This is a painful reminder that synagogues in America continue to be at risk for terrorist attacks," said Scott Richman, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League New York and New Jersey.

"We need to be, even when there's a quiet moment, we need to be taking it seriously," Bernstein said.

Even to experts in the field, questions remain.

"Why the synagogue? Why a Muslim person? Why he doesn't seem to have any sort of affiliation?" former hostage negotiator Noam Morchy said.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim advocacy group, condemned the actions.

Police say the investigation is ongoing but there is no threat to public safety in New York.

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