The recent 11-hour standoff between British citizen Malik Faisal Akram, 44, and law enforcement at a north Texas synagogue resulted the perpetrator's death – but victims of the terrorist attack on the Jewish community were able to walk away from a very tense situation.
Gregory Shaffer is a retired Supervisory Special Agent of the FBI and former member of the agency's elite Hostage Rescue Team (HRT). He tells American Family News that when hostages are able to be safely removed from these incidents, it should be considered "a very successful operation."
Shaffer explains that hostage rescue teams always negotiate first, desiring a "peaceful conclusion" to these kinds of incidents. But the most dangerous time of these events is within the first few hours when "adrenaline is flowing" and can negatively impact the process, he shares.
In the Texas example, Shaffer was surprised that negotiation efforts went on for so long. "Most lengthy negotiations ultimately end up negotiating out and there's no need to go in," he explains.
Releasing one of the hostages earlier in the day was a "show of good faith" by the hostage taker, he indicates. And thankfully, the former HRT member says, such a move allows the FBI to gather valuable information about the situation.
FAIR: Hostage taker's record should have raised suspicions
Chad Groening (AFN)
An immigration reform organization says the man who took hostages at a Jewish synagogue in a Dallas-Ft. Worth suburb should have never been allowed into the United States.
Malik Faisal Akram, a British national of Pakistani descent, took four people hostage January 15 at a Texas synagogue before he was killed by an FBI Hostage Rescue Team. Akram was allowed entry to the United States despite having an extensive criminal record that the Biden administration's intelligence agencies did not flag.
"This guy should have been flagged before he ever left the United Kingdom," says Ira Mehlman, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform. "We have consular officers there whose job it is to look into the backgrounds of people who book travel to the United States. This guy had an extensive criminal record; he had suspicious travel patterns. So, there was ample evidence for them to look into it before he ever left the U.K."
Mehlman recalls that on his first day in office, President Joe Biden revoked a Trump-era executive order that sought to enhance the vetting of foreign nationals traveling to the U.S. While details on this case are still emerging, the FAIR spokesman suggests that revocation may have granted Akram easier access into the country.
HRTs are best of the best
Hostage rescue teams are fully committed to saving lives, Shaffer says. They are "the best of the best" and considered to be "surgical shooters." He explains that the FBI's HRT is a Tier 1 law-enforcement special-operations unit used for domestic counterterrorism and hostage rescue. The HRT is the law-enforcement equivalent of the military's SEAL Team 6 and Delta Force, which have the authority to conduct operations overseas.
To that end, FBI agents go through a very intense selection process to be part of a HRT, Shaffer says. Once selected, they are trained in variety of skills for the position, including fast roping, skydiving, cold weather training, desert survival training, and explosive breaching tactics, for example.
"They don't get involved in investigations, but as full-time members of this elite group, they can blow through doors, walls, and ceilings," he says. "Hostage rescues are what they train for – and they're eager to put all those hours and years of training to use."
FBI has become 'political tool'
Initial assessments of the Texas scene by the FBI took some time before the domestic intelligence and security service was willing to identify the Colleyville incident as an act of terrorism. In a New York Post op-ed, James Gagliano – also a former member of an HRT –contends "the FBI has become so woke it can't call out terrorism," hence the delay in calling the incident as "act of terrorism" and a "hate crime."
Sadly, Shaffer admits, "[the top echelon of] the FBI is changing," with "politicization and wokeness" being the problem. He finds that "heart-wrenching [because] 99.9 percent of street agents are great Americans who love the country and would do anything for it, even giving their life for the country, if necessary."
"To see the FBI become a political tool crushes the soul of retirees like myself and also those on the front line," he admits.