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Armed man takes hostages at Texas synagogue, source says

Colleyville, Texas synogogue
Posted at 1:33 PM, Jan 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-15 19:43:04-05

COLLEYVILLE, TX — A hostage situation is underway at a synagogue in the Dallas-Fort Worth area Saturday, several sources told ABC News.

An armed suspect claiming to have bombs in unknown locations took a rabbi and three others hostage at the Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, a source familiar with the situation told ABC News. It is unclear to what extent the hostage-taker is armed. The suspect was carrying backpacks and had said that he has explosives. Law enforcement does not know whether that's true but they are acting as if it's true.

A U.S. official briefed on the matter told ABC News the hostage-taker is claiming to be the brother of convicted terrorist Aafia Siddiqui, but authorities have not yet confirmed his identity. The suspect is demanding to have the sister freed, the official said.

Siddiqui is incarcerated at Carswell Air Force Base near Fort Worth, according to the source. She had alleged ties to al-Qaida and was convicted of assault and attempted murder of a U.S. soldier in 2010 and sentenced to 86 years in prison.

Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas.

There is believed to be one suspect at this time, the source said. The FBI has responded to the scene, along with local authorities and hostage negotiators. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is also responding to the situation, according to an agency spokesperson.

Law enforcement is hoping to diffuse the situation without doing anything that could jeopardize the safety of the rabbi and the other three. They have ordered the suspect food and are continuing to negotiate.

Colleyville police said in a statement there are no injuries among the hostages.

A White House official confirmed to ABC News that the White House is "closely monitoring" the hostage situation. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden will be updated by his senior team as the situation develops,

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has also been briefed on the situation, according to a DHS spokesperson.

The Colleyville Police Department's SWAT team responded to the area midday Saturday and evacuated residents in the immediate area.

As of 3:20 p.m. local time, the situation "remains ongoing," the department said on social media. "We ask that you continue to avoid the area."

The Texas Department of Public Safety is also on the scene of what Texas Gov. Greg Abbott described as a "tense hostage situation."

"They are working with local and federal teams to achieve the best and safest outcome," Abbott said on Twitter. "I continue to monitor the situation through DPS."

The Dallas Police Department is deploying additional patrols to city synagogues and other sites "as a precaution," Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said on Twitter Saturday afternoon.

"Police are working with the Jewish Federation and our local, state, and federal partners to monitor any concerns or threats based on the situation in Colleyville," he added.

ABC News' Luke Barr and Josh Margolin contributed to this story.