Bishop of Fort Worth Asks for Prayers for Synagogue Hostage Situation Involving Alleged Al-Qaida Terrorist

‘Please pray for the safety of the hostages, their families, this congregation, for the members of law enforcement, and for the peaceful surrender of the perpetrator(s) of this crime,’ said Bishop Michael Olson.

Most of the press covering the live negotiations involving the FBI, local police and a SWAT team were operating from Good Shepherd Catholic Church, three-tenths of a mile away from the synagogue.
Most of the press covering the live negotiations involving the FBI, local police and a SWAT team were operating from Good Shepherd Catholic Church, three-tenths of a mile away from the synagogue. (photo: zef art / Shutterstock)

FORT WORTH, Texas — Bishop Michael Olson of Fort Worth, Texas, made an urgent request to Catholics to pray for those involved in a hostage situation that was still developing at a synagogue in nearby Colleyville Saturday evening.

“Please pray for the safety of the hostages, their families, this congregation, for the members of law enforcement, and for the peaceful surrender of the perpetrator(s) of this crime,” said Bishop Olson in a brief message posted on his Twitter account. 

A man took hostages at the Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville during a service that was being livestreamed on Facebook on Saturday, Jan. 15. The ranting man, claiming to be Aafia Siddiqui's brother, interrupted the ceremony and took four hostages, including Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, demanding the release of Siddiqui. 

At 5pm local time, the man released one hostage, and after more than 10 hours of tense negotiations, a SWAT team rescued the remaining hostages unharmed. 

Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist who graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and lived in the Boston area before returning to Pakistan, is a controversial figure. She is regarded by U.S. intelligence as a dangerous terrorist with deep al-Qaida connections who plotted against U.S. military forces in Afghanistan; but she is seen as a national hero by Pakistan, who has repeatedly requested her release.

A mother of three and the only woman sentenced for terrorist actions in connection with 9/11, Siddiqui has been jailed at the Federal Medical Center-Carswell prison in Fort Worth since 2008, when she was convicted and sentenced on charges involving assault and firing of a weapon at U.S. Army officers in Afghanistan. The Fort Worth chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), who defends Siddiqui's innocence, announced in July 2021 that she had been attacked by another inmate and was in solitary confinement.

Saddiqui’s lawyer, Marwa Elbially, had released a statement saying, “We want to verify that the perpetrator is NOT Dr. Aafia‘s brother who is a respected architect and member of the community. Whoever the assailant is, we want him to know that his actions are condemned by Dr. Aafia and her family,” calling the suspect’s actions “heinous and wrong.”  

Aafia has one brother and one sister.

Most of the press covering the live negotiations involving the FBI, local police and a SWAT team were operating from Good Shepherd Catholic Church, three-tenths of a mile away from the synagogue when they heard a loud bang followed by a short blast of rapid gunfire at 9:30pm local time. Three minutes later, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted: “Prayers answered. All hostages are out alive and safe." 

Ivan Aivazovsky, “Walking on Water,” ca. 1890

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“The witness of Scripture is unanimous that the solicitude of divine providence is concrete and immediate; God cares for all, from the least things to the great events of the world and its history. The sacred books powerfully affirm God's absolute sovereignty over the course of events …” (CCC 303)