CNN host Don Lemon doesn’t appear to believe that the hostage situation at a Texas synagogue was terrorism related, suggesting instead that Malik Faisal Akram, who was identified as the hostage-taker, was suffering from “mental illness.”
Lemon’s remarks contradict the FBI’s assessment that Akram, a British national who was killed after he took four people hostage at the Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, may have been a terrorist.
During the segment, Lemon discussed the incident with former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and ADL president Jonathan Greenblatt. While paraphrasing a survivor of the incident, Lemon said he b believes the public consensus is that people who promote anti-Semitic tropes are not “necessarily racist. They’re just repeating ignorant things.”
"But," he added, "when some who may be unstable or has some mental issues, it becomes real, and they act. These tropes are incredibly dangerous in that regard."
McCabe, who now works for CNN after he was fired by then-President Donald Trump, agreed with Lemon’s assessment by stating that the FBI warning of similar attacks "is yet another sad and tragic aspect of this wave of violence that mentally disturbed people who are maybe leaning in that directions sometimes see things like this happen like this that can act as an inspirational moment or a trigger moment to set them in motion."
According to the FBI statement, Malik Faisal Akram, who was identified as the hostage-taker, "repeatedly" referred to a convicted terrorist, Fox News reported.
In a livestream posted, and later removed by Twitter, the hostage-taker could be heard demanding the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist with suspected ties to Al Qaeda who was convicted of trying to murder US Army officers in Afghanistan. Siddiqui is serving her sentence in Fort Worth, some 15 miles north of Colleyville, where the synagogue is located.
"This is a terrorism-related matter, in which the Jewish community was targeted, and is being investigated by the Joint Terrorism Task Force," the FBI statement read.
Greenblatt disagreed with Lemon’s assessment of the matter, explaining that "wild conspiracy theories that defame or delegitimize the Jewish people or the Jewish state are part now of the public conservation in ways that I think are terrifying."
"I don’t have the luxury of writing this off though it was a deranged person,” he said.
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