VOTEWATCH can exclusively reveal that the British Islamist shot dead after taking hostages in a synagogue in Texas was an active member of the Labour Party in Blackburn, and a close relative of Blackburn Labour Councillor Mohammed Irfan.
Malik Faisal Akram, 44, was shot and killed by FBI agents after a 10 hour standoff inside the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue in Colleyville, Texas on Saturday night.
The Islamist gunman, a citizen of Blackburn in the UK, had initially taken four people hostage, including the rabbi. Thankfully, none of the hostages were harmed.
On Sunday, US President Joe Biden said Malik had used street-purchased weapons to carry out “an act of terror” on American soil.
“I don’t have all the facts, nor does the attorney general” President Biden said, “but allegedly the assertion was he got the weapons on the street.
“He purchased them when he landed and it turns out there apparently were no bombs that we know of … Apparently he spent the first night in a homeless shelter. I don’t have all the details yet so I’m reluctant to go into much more detail.”
Greater Manchester Police (GMP) later announced that officers from Counter Terror Policing North West had made two arrests in south Manchester on Sunday evening.
They said the two teenagers, whose ages and genders they did not immediately confirm, remain in custody for questioning.
Malik’s family have said that he was “religious but peaceful and tolerant”, and had served as the president of Raza Masjid, an Islamic centre in Blackburn.
However, Malik is now known to have had a serious criminal history.
VoteWatch has confirmed that Malik and several of his family members were active in the local Labour Party branch, and that his close relative, Mohammed Irfan, is a sitting Labour Councillor on Blackburn council.
Pakistani-based television network Geo.tv have also now confirmed Malik’s relation to the local Labour party and to Cllr Irfan:
“A local source said that Faisal took part in demonstrations for the freedom of Palestine and took part in protests for the release of Muslims prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.
“As soon as the news emerged of Faisal’s involvement in the hostage-taking, the local Blackburn council issued a request to all local councillors not to speak to media.”
“Malik Akram and members of his family actively participate in local politics and one of their close relatives Mohammed Irfan is a Labour party councillor. According to the locals who spoke to this correspondent, Malik Akram and his family got along with others.”
A former local Labour activist from Blackburn told VoteWatch: “Malik was very active in the community – a very well known person here. Although I would never have predicted he’d get involved in something like this, there is a big problem in the local [Labour] branch with antisemitism, and within the community in general. This hate needs to end.”
Labour-run Blackburn Council has been the focus of many VoteWatch investigations over the past 12 months, due to an abnormal number of political scandals involving its Labour councillors and activists.
These scandals have included antisemitism, bullying, intimidation, and an investigation carried out by the local police force into allegations of fraud.
Speaking to VoteWatch, a spokesperson from the the Blackburn Conservative Association said:
“We are naturally disturbed and horrified that the terrorist atrocity committed in Texas USA by a man from Blackburn and send our condolences and prayers to the hostages in Texas.
“However it is no surprise that the rise of Anti-semitism within the local Labour Party continues. Andy Kay, Jan Virmani, Tasleen Fazal, and the inaction by BWDBC [Blackburn and Darwin Borough Council] and The Labour Party to address this serious issue within communities possibly may have resulted in the radicalisation of this man locally.
“We would urge the local authority and The Labour Party to take immediate decisive action against anti-Semitic politicians and community leaders within our town.”