Justice Department charges a man who allegedly sold a gun to the Texas synagogue hostage-taker

Jan 26, 2022, 6:28 PM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 3:21 pm
COLLEYVILLE, TEXAS - JANUARY 16: Law enforcement vehicles sit in front of the Congregation Beth Isr...
COLLEYVILLE, TEXAS - JANUARY 16: Law enforcement vehicles sit in front of the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue on January 16, 2022 in Colleyville, Texas. All four people who were held hostage at the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue have been safely released after more than 10 hours of being held captive by a gunman. Yesterday, police responded to a hostage situation after reports of a man with a gun was holding people captive. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
(Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

(CNN) — Federal prosecutors have charged a 32-year-old man with a federal firearm crime, alleging he was the one who sold the Colleyville, Texas, synagogue hostage-taker the gun he used during the hourslong standoff earlier this month.

Henry Williams, who was charged Tuesday with being a felon in possession of a firearm, allegedly sold a semiautomatic pistol to Malik Faisal Akram on January 13, according to a criminal complaint.

Akram, a 44-year-old British national, held four people hostage at Congregation Beth Israel in an 11-hour standoff on January 15, the FBI said. An FBI team killed Akram after one hostage was released and three escaped from the synagogue just outside Dallas, officials said.

CNN has reached out to Williams’ attorney for comment. He had his initial court appearance Wednesday, court records show.

FBI agents and other local authorities worked “around the clock” to determine how Akram acquired his weapon, Matthew DeSarno, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Dallas field office, said in a statement. In a news conference last week, DeSarno had said the question remained their investigation’s “primary gap.”

Authorities were able to identify Williams by analyzing Akram’s cell phone records, which showed the two called each other several times between January 11 and 13, according to the complaint.

When authorities first approached Williams on January 16, Williams told federal investigators that he met with a man who had a British accent but that he did not remember the man’s name, the complaint said.

Agents interviews Williams again after he was arrested on an outstanding state warrant and showed him a photo of Akram, and he confirmed that was the person he sold the handgun to, the complaint said.

The complaint added Williams “stated that Akram told him the gun was going to be used for intimidation as Akram represented that he wanted it to try and get money from someone who had an outstanding debt with him.”

Williams was previously incarcerated for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and attempted possession of a controlled substance, according to the complaint. He remains detained ahead of a January 31 pre-trial detention hearing.

“Federal firearm laws are designed to keep guns from falling into dangerous hands. As a convicted felon, Mr. Williams was prohibited from carrying, acquiring, or selling firearms,” US Attorney Chad E. Meacham said in a statement. “Whether or not he knew of his buyer’s nefarious intent is largely irrelevant — felons cannot have guns, period, and the Justice Department is committed to prosecuting those who do.”


Two men arrested in UK as part of investigation


Also Wednesday, two men were arrested in the English city of Manchester as part of an investigation into the Texas synagogue standoff, Greater Manchester Police said.

UK counterterrorism investigators have been helping US authorities look into the incident, which is being treated by the FBI as a hate crime and an act of terrorism.

“As part of the local investigation, two men have been arrested this morning in Manchester. They remain in custody for questioning,” Greater Manchester Police said Wednesday.

Last week, two men were arrested in the English cities of Birmingham and Manchester in connection with the standoff investigation and were held for questioning, Greater Manchester Police said at the time without elaborating.

US investigators believe Akram was motivated in part by a desire to see the release of extremist Aafia Siddiqui, who is serving an 86-year federal prison sentence in Fort Worth, Texas, they’ve said. She was not involved in the Colleyville standoff, her attorney said.

Akram arrived in the United States in late December via New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, a US law enforcement source familiar with the investigation told CNN.

Akram was known to UK security services and was the subject of a brief investigation in 2020, a UK official told CNN. The investigation was closed when authorities determined Akram was no longer a threat.

The incident put Jewish communities across the United States on edge. Attacks on Jewish people have been on the rise, the Anti-Defamation League warns. And while the majority of anti-Semitic incidents involve harassment and vandalism, assaults have also happened, with at least six turning fatal since 2016, including at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue in 2018.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

U.S. Sen. Kyrtsen Sinema (D-AZ) speaks at a news conference after the Senate passed the Respect for...

Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema switches to independent

Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona says she has switched her registration to independent.
16 hours ago
Oranges lay on the ground near a tree after hurricane Ian hit V.C. Holllingsworth's, III, orange gr...
CURT ANDERSON, Associated Press

USDA: Florida orange crop down 36% after twin hurricanes

U.S. officials say Florida's seasonal orange production is forecast to be down 36% from earlier estimates, in part a reflection of twin hurricanes that battered growing regions.
16 hours ago
Questions surround negotiations for prisoner swap to free Brittney Griner...

Griner in ‘good spirits’ in US after Russian prisoner swap

Brittney Griner returned to the United States Friday and was reunited with her wife nearly 10 months after her detention in Russia made the basketball star the most high-profile American jailed abroad and set off a political firestorm.
16 hours ago
JIm Beam is selling hug-simulating pajamas for the holidays.
Mandatory Credit:	Jim Beam...
Parija Kavilanz, CNN

Jim Beam offers novel fix for holiday blues: hug-simulating pajamas

Bourbon brand Jim Beam is offering what could possibly be the weirdest gift for the holidays — hug-simulating pajamas.
16 hours ago
Patrick Giblin in an undated arrest photo. He portrayed himself to women as a wealthy romantic look...
Faith Karimi, CNN

A fake Romeo charmed over 100 women, then scammed them

Patrick Giblin was like the American version of the "Tinder Swindler" -- but without the private jets.
16 hours ago
Oil prices jump 4% after the Keystone Pipeline was shut down following a leak. Pictured is the pipe...
Matt Egan, CNN Business

Keystone Pipeline shuts down after oil leak, halting flow of 600K barrels a day

The Keystone Pipeline has been shut down following a leak discovered near the border of Kansas and Nebraska.
16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Justice Department charges a man who allegedly sold a gun to the Texas synagogue hostage-taker