Biden calls Texas synagogue hostage situation 'act of terror'

US President Joe Biden, as well as other elected officials both in the US and in Israel, reacted on Sunday morning to the release of four hostages held at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, TX.

 US PRESIDENT Joe Biden gestures as he delivers remarks at the White House in July on the administration’s drawdown efforts in Afghanistan. (photo credit: EVELYN HOCKSTEIN/REUTERS)
US PRESIDENT Joe Biden gestures as he delivers remarks at the White House in July on the administration’s drawdown efforts in Afghanistan.
(photo credit: EVELYN HOCKSTEIN/REUTERS)

 US President Joe Biden said that a gunman who disrupted a religious service in a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, on Saturday and took four people hostage had engaged in an "act of terror."

"This was an act of terror; it was an act of terror," Biden said on Sunday in a visit to Philadelphia, adding that there was not sufficient information on why the gunman had targeted the synagogue.

WASHINGTON - Biden as well as other elected officials both in the US and in Israel reacted on Sunday morning to the release of four hostages held at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas.

“Thanks to the courageous work of state, local and federal law enforcement, four Americans who were held hostage at a Texas synagogue will soon be home with their families,“ US President Joe Biden said in a statement. “I am grateful to the tireless work of law enforcement at all levels who acted cooperatively and fearlessly to rescue the hostages. We are sending love and strength to the members of Congregation Beth Israel, Colleyville, and the Jewish community,“ the statement reads.

“There is more we will learn in the days ahead about the motivations of the hostage-taker. But let me be clear to anyone who intends to spread hate—we will stand against anti-Semitism and against the rise of extremism in this country,“ Biden added. “That is who we are, and tonight, the men and women of law enforcement made us all proud.“

Israel's Ambassador in Washington, Mike Herzog, tweeted that he was grateful that the hostages were rescued and returned to their loved ones. “This horrific incident is a reminder that the threat of antisemitism is ever-present. Jews should not be afraid to pray in their synagogues,“ he wrote.

“Thank you to all the local and federal law enforcement and first responders who were on the scene and helped prevent a tragedy this Shabbat,“ Herzog added. “We will continue to stand with the Texas Jewish community and against every form of hatred.“ 
 Emergency responders are seen near a synagogue where a man has reportedly taken people hostage at a synagogue during services that were being streamed live, in Colleyville, Texas, U.S. January 15, 2022.  (credit: REUTERS/Shelby Tauber) Emergency responders are seen near a synagogue where a man has reportedly taken people hostage at a synagogue during services that were being streamed live, in Colleyville, Texas, U.S. January 15, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/Shelby Tauber)

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti Defamation League (ADL) issued a statement, praising Texas law enforcement and the FBI “for their work in ending the tense hostage situation in Colleyville and for the safe return of the hostages to their families.”

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families, who have endured a horrific trauma. ADL will remain on the scene now and in the difficult days ahead,” said Greenblatt. “This situation is a painful reminder of the fact that synagogues in America continue to be at risk for terrorist attacks,” he continued. “There is no doubt, given what we know so far, that the hostage-taker chose his target carefully. We urge law enforcement and prosecutors to investigate the role antisemitism may have played in motivating the suspect.”

The Jewish Federations of North America issued a tweet, saying that the organization is relieved and thankful that all the hostages are safe. “We thank the law enforcement that ensured their release and all the people who kept them in their prayers today,“ JFNA tweeted.

“We are relieved to learn that all the hostages are safe,“ the Jewish Agency tweeted. “Jewish communities around the world prayed for this moment and are thankful it ended.“
“Praise God,” tweeted Texas Senator, Ted Cruz. “I’m very grateful that all hostages are safe and incredibly thankful for the brave members of law enforcement who responded to Congregation Beth Israel, freed the hostages, and stopped the terrorist,” Cruz added.
“Flooded with relief to hear this news,“ tweeted Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schulz (D-FL). “Thankful to the FBI and law enforcement for their remarkable courage and expertise. Saddened and angry that another Jewish community was a target of terror,“ she added.
“We are deeply relieved that all hostages at the synagogue in Colleyville, TX are safe,“ Stand With Us tweeted. “We thank law enforcement for their tireless efforts and all people of goodwill who stood with the Jewish community today. Yet another shocking reminder that we must unite against antisemitism.“