Press releases

WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans in asking Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray for answers regarding Malik Faisal Akram.

A British national, Akram held four people hostage at the Beth Israel Congregation in Colleyville, Texas, for hours on Jan. 15 and reportedly “was the subject of a short, low-level investigation by the U.K.’s MI5 domestic intelligence agency in the second half of 2020.” The investigation was “based on information that he may have been involved in Islamist terrorism.”  

“In light of the numerous red flags in Akram’s record, we are extremely concerned about the adequacy of our visa adjudication and admission screening protocols. As Akram’s own brother told reporters: ‘How had he gotten into America? . . . Why was he granted a visa? How did he land at J.F.K. airport and not get stopped for one second?’” the senators wrote to Mayorkas and Blinken.

The senators asked Mayorkas and Blinken to list all U.S. nonimmigrant or immigrant visas that Akram possessed and to provide the most recent date that Akram was admitted to the U.S.

The lawmakers requested a number of records including a copy of Akram’s “A-File,” and raised questions regarding issues such as the security information sharing agreement between the U.S. and U.K. under the Visa Waiver Program. They further asked detailed questions about the process through which Akram apparently entered the U.S. without significant scrutiny, especially in light of previous concerns about terrorists utilizing the Visa Waiver Program.

The senators also wrote to Wray asking whether the FBI considers Akram to have been an Islamic fundamentalist terrorist, what kinds of communications the FBI had with the U.K. regarding Akram prior to the synagogue attack and whether the FBI placed Akram under surveillance upon his arrival in the U.S. They also raised questions about what information relating to Akram was contained in available databases, including his criminal history and data shared by international partners.

The letter to Mayorkas and Blinken is available here.

The letter to Wray is available here.