A fresh picture of the Texas synagogue terrorist, taken just days before launching his attack, emerged tonight as British police released two teenagers arrested in Manchester as part of the inquiry without charge.
Malik Faisal Akram, from Blackburn, was shot dead by US law enforcement on Saturday night after taking four people and a Rabbi hostage in a 10-hour siege.
Tonight, it was revealed that the 44-year-old was the subject of a ‘short lead investigation’ – effectively chasing a tip-off – by MI5 for a least four weeks at the end of 2020.
While there were concerns about Akram’s activities, spooks deemed there was no sign he presented an imminent threat and he case was closed before tactics such as eavesdropping were deployed, according to the Times.
Indeed he wasn’t on the Home Office warnings index – a watchlist used by airport police to intercept potential passengers of concern – when he travelled across the Atlantic late last year.
It would be ‘disproportionate’ to place someone who was assessed as not being a threat on such a list, sources told the paper.
It comes as a new image emerged of Akram tonight, taken at an outreach centre in Dallas – around three miles from the site of the attack in Colleyville – just days before he took hostages.
Wayne Walker, chief executive at the shelter, Our Calling, said Akram was hugged by a man who dropped him off there on January 2.
Meanwhile, police in the UK have released two teenagers who they arrested as part of their inquiry into the attack without charge
The youngsters, who are believed to be under the age of 18, and cannot be identified for legal reasons, were detained in South Manchester on Sunday.
A new image emerged of Akram tonight, taken at an outreach centre in Dallas – around three miles from the site of the attack in Colleyville – just days before he took hostages
Synagogue terrorist Malik Faisal Akram is arrested outside his Blackburn home and bundled into a police van in 2016
Akram was arrested in Blackburn in 2016 after refusing to pay his landlord any rent. Police vans are pictured at the scene
A Texas Synagogue hostage flees, watched by a SWAT team officer perched in an armoured car
Police chiefs said officers remain in constant contact with US authorities to support them with their investigation and continue to lead a local investigation, with an address in North Manchester having been searched.
Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Dominic Scally, of Counter Terrorism Policing North West, said: ‘CTP North West is continuing to assist with the investigation which is being led by US authorities.
‘Overnight, constructive meetings with colleagues from the United States have taken place.
‘As part of our enquiries, we’re also working with colleagues in other forces and Lancashire Police are working with communities in the Blackburn area to put measures in place to provide reassurance.’
It comes as further pictures emerged today of the moment Akram was arrested outside his Blackburn home and bundled into a police van after refusing to pay his landlord any rent.
The terrorist was held by officers where he lived in a quiet cul-de-sac because he wouldn’t let bailiffs into the property where he lived with his wife and six children.
Residents have described career criminal Akram as the ‘neighbour from hell’ who made their lives a misery with his anti-social and threatening behaviour before he is believed to have left 18 months ago and moved to Manchester.
MailOnline can reveal that police visited Akram’s former home twice in the last two months looking for the terrorist.
Just before Christmas Lancashire Police called at the house looking for him, but didn’t disclose why. They returned earlier this month looking for Malik’s teenage son, amid concerns for his whereabouts.
The image of Akram being arrested in 2016 came after he hurled abuse at workmen who were trying to install new gas and electricity meters inside the house and stopped them from getting in.
He had failed to pay his rent and reportedly caused £10,000 worth of damage when he was finally evicted.
A neighbour who asked not to be named told MailOnline: ‘He only lived here for a few months but he caused so many problems.
‘That photo was taken in November 2016 and he had refused to let bailiffs and workmen who were due to install new gas and electricity meters into the property.
‘He was abusive and shouting at them in the street so the police were called.
‘Rather than deterring him, he refused to budge and was continuing his outburst at police so they put him in handcuffs and led him away. He wasn’t a very nice person. He wouldn’t engage with anyone in the street unless he was shouting at them.
Faiisal Akram, 44, (pictured) from Blackburn was the gunman in the hostage situation at a Texas synagogue
‘On one occasion he’d parked his car across one of his neighbour’s driveways blocking them in.
‘The lady went over and knocked on his door and asked him politely if he could move his car but he started to yell and swear at her. He refused to move the car and told her that she could not tell him what to do because she was a woman.
‘He had a very sexist way of behaving. He was very extreme in his religious views and did not believe women and men were equal.
‘There was another similar row over parking with another neighbour which saw them both square up to each other and nearly turn violent.
‘One neighbour wanted to move because he and his family were really disruptive. And this cul-de-sac is normally very peaceful with everyone else getting on with each other.
‘He left at some point late in 2018 or early 2019, we believe they went to Manchester. It was a relief when they did finally go. He was the neighbour from hell.
‘But it was still a huge surprise to see that he was the one who had laid siege to a synagogue in America and had been shot dead by the authorities.’
The former landlord of the house told MailOnline that Akram had ripped up the carpet, destroyed furniture and damaged the fridge freezer as well as refusing to pay the rent.
He said: ‘He liked to pass himself off as a good Muslim but he wasn’t at all, he behaved despicably.’
Akram, who MailOnline revealed yesterday was banned from Blackburn Magistrates Court in 2001 for ranting about the 9/11 terror attacks, has a criminal record dating back more than 25-years.
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 in cash and phones. But the case was later stopped.