Faisal Akram had a criminal record dating back more than 25 years
New Delhi: Synagogue terrorist Malik Faisal Akram was being watched by British spies in the months before his 10-hour siege in Texas because of his links to extremism — but was let off the hook, the Daily Mail reported.
The Blackburn-born father of six, a career criminal and reputedly a member of an ultra-conservative Islamist sect, was put under surveillance at the end of 2020 for four weeks, the report said.
But a security source said MI5 closed the case having decided that he “didn’t present a terrorist threat at that time”.
He was not kept on the terror ‘watchlist’ that would have prevented him from flying to America, which security experts have said was a big mistake given the surveillance he had been under.
The latest blunder emerged as Britain and the US were on Tuesday accused of ‘dropping the ball’ after letting him fly to New York despite police already hunting for him and his links to a religious sect banned in Saudi Arabia for attempts to ‘purify Islam’, the Daily Mail reported.
He was also fixated with demanding the release of ‘Lady al-Qaeda’ Aafia Siddiqui, a convicted terrorist in a Texan jail who is a cause celebre for terror groups around the world.
Akram’s brother has claimed that he believes ‘someone helped him’ through immigration because he had been in and out of prison since he was a juvenile.
Akram became known to counter-terrorism police after becoming ‘completely obsessed’ with Islam and displayed extreme and disruptive behaviour at Friday prayers during his most recent spell in prison, the report added.
He was also a regular at anti-Israel demonstrations and marches for the release of Muslim prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, having first been put behind bars in 1996 as a juvenile delinquent and going in and out of prison for 16 years until he found ‘religion’.
It has emerged that Akram had a criminal record dating back more than 25 years, the Daily Mail reported.
He found himself in borstal as a teenager before going to an adult prison in 1996, aged 19, for violent disorder after attacking a cousin with a baseball bat.
A year later he was back in prison again, this time for the destruction of property, and then in 1999 for harassment. He is believed to have taken to selling drugs and was then in prison again in 2012 for stealing 5,000 pounds in cash and phones. But the case was later stopped.
It was that stint in HMP Liverpool that began his path to religious extremism and where he was reported by the prison Imam for ‘concerning and disruptive behaviour’ at Friday prayers, the report added.
However, Akram – who is understood to have married and lived in Manchester with his six children – later told a friend that he had ‘found Allah’. He ceased to worship at his father’s mosque and began attending meetings of the Tablighi Jamaat group, set up to ‘purify’ Islam.
The group is banned in Saudi Arabia as ‘one of the gates of terrorism’ although its 80 million supporters worldwide insist its teachings are not linked to violence, the report said.
He was pictured at demonstrations for Muslim prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and in support of Palestinian independence.
The second of six children, Akram was born in Blackburn where his father, also Malik, served as the president of a local mosque after emigrating from his native Pakistan.