tv Nightline ABC January 18, 2022 12:37am-1:06am PST
this is "nightline." >> tonight, dramatic escape. how the hostages made it out safely from that texas synagogue. >> the first two hostages came out, then the yelling starts, then the next hostage comes out. then you see the gunman. >> the eyewitnesss watching it in disbelief. >> it sounded like an explosion. we didn't know if it was a bomb that went off. what is we know about the elite fbi team rushed to the scene. >> really a sophisticated, almost like a s.e.a.l. team. plus, novak djokovic. back home after being deported from australia, without playing a point. the controversial tennis star's attempt to defend his title, causing an international
firestorm. >> don't question his legacy because of this. >> will the unvaccinated champion be allowed to compete in the french open this spring? "nightline" will be right back. feeling sluggish or weighed down? it could be a sign that your digestive system isn't working at it's best taking metamucil everyday can help. metamucil psyllium fiber, gels to trap and remove the waste that weighs you down. it also helps lower cholesterol and slows sugar absorption to promote healthy blood sugar levels. so you can feel lighter and more energetic metamucil. support your daily digestive health. and try metamucil fiber thins. a great tasting and easy way to start your day.
incredible rescue turns out to have been a daring escape. tonight, we're learning more about what went on during those tense hours inside that synagogue in texas. eyewitnesss who watched the standoff unfold telling us stunning new details about the siege. and heroic rescue efforts. here's abc's correspondent. >> reporter: a split second decision. a mad dash to safety. >> that's frightening to know that something like that can happen this close to you. >> reporter: a nearly 12-hour standoff inside a texas synagogue, coming to a dramatic end. >> sounded like an explosion. we didn't know if it was a bomb that went off. >> reporter: tonight, new information about the man who held four hostages at gun point. and the search to figure out why. >> it's starting to hit home that this was basically a terrorist right here literally in our backyard. >> this hostage taking happened at a time when anti-semitic acts
are on the increase in this country and the fbi fears this will not be the last. >> reporter: the scene from this weekend couldn't be further from normal in this quiet american suburb. collieville, texas, a wealthy town in the dallas-ft. worth metro area. >> very, very close knit community. most of the people know each other. that's a good community to raise a family in. s.w.a.t. teams looked like they had positioned themselves. >> jimmy: jerry moore has lived here for years. his backyard looks over the synagogue. >> our house is here, the synagogue is right back here. >> reporter: the town is consistently ranked as one of the safest cities in the state. but all that changed saturday, as rabbi charlie walker prepared to start shabbat services. the rabbi telling cbs how the man came to the synagogue to warm up on a particularly cold
morning. >> i took him in, i stayed with him. making tea was an opportunity for me to talk with him. and in that moment, i didn't hear anything suspicious. >> reporter: the man he's talking about, 44-year-old british national malik faisal akram. law enforcement reports show he arrived in the u.s. on december 29th, landing at jfk airport in new york. he did not appear on any of the government's watch lists. he may have traveled to texas a couple of days later. authorities say he spent some time at a local homeless shelter. that morning, the shabbat service was being live streamed over facebook. then it was suddenly interrupted. >> my mom woke me up and said something is going on. i think there's a hostage situation. >> reporter: synagogue members could hear akram as he took the rabbi and three others at gun point. >> he said he had a bomb. he said he had a gun.
it was -- it's a nightmare. >> hearing my rabbi talk to someone that clearly has an alarming hatred of jews was terrifying. it was like my worst fear ever. >> my sister texted me and said no, there's a hostage situation at the synagogue. there's somebody who has a gun and has four people from the temple there. >> jimmy: jerry moore isn't a member of the synagogue, but he jumped on the facebook live stream and heard the gunman. >> the hostage taker was extremely upset, veriage tay ai. he stated over and of he was going to be dead when this was over. he kind of indicated he didn't want something to happen to the hostages. but at the same time, he asked each hostage how many children they had and then he told the negotiator, you do not want seven children to not have a parent come home tonight. >> reporter: inside, authorities say the gunman demanded the
release of a convicted al qaeda supporter. she is serving 86 years in a texas prison. >> at different points, she was referred to as lady al qaeda. at times, she has been used as a bargaining chip for the release of hostages being held in other countries. ultimately, the united states values her incarceration so much, that she's still in her prison in texas. >> reporter: law enforcement began arriving on scene. police and the fbi, the bureau eventually flying in its elite hostage rescue team all the way from virginia. >> the fbi's hostage rescue team at quantico is a super s.w.a.t. team. that's a full-time job. they train extensively. they have all these specialty skills in plastic explosives, how to blow doors, how to do underwater demolition. they train with the military. >> facebook ultimately took down the live stream, but law
enforcement officials tell us they were able to remain tuned in, in realtime after they accessed the synagogue's closed circuit tv feed. so they understood what was happening the entire standoff. >> from my window, i could see the s.w.a.t. teams coming in. you could see from back here s.w.a.t. members running around outside in the camouflage. >> there were kids that walked out. >> reporter: josh stevens is with the station wfaa in dallas. >> and then we walked all the way back down here. >> reporter: he ended up in his neighbor's backyards. as the s.w.a.t. team was being replaced with fbi agents. >> we hugged this treeline the entire time. >> reporter: why? >> safety, security, didn't want to be seen. >> reporter: for hours, the fbi teams worked. akram making it clear he was not acting on behalf of any terror organization. just after 5:00, one hostage was
released unharmed. but as the hours wore on, akram was getting more angry and agitated. josh stevens' camera is still rolling. as it began creeping up on 9:00, something happened. >> they were doing a change of the guard, so to speak. and right about that time is when you see the first two hostages come out. then the yelling starts. then the next hostage comes out. then you see the gunman. then, i mean, everything just went crazy. >> we were inside watching one of the news stations. [ explosion ] when we heard the bang, and just lots of gunshots. [ gunfire ] >> obviously, there was a gun fight going on between the gunman and, you know, the fbi. >> reporter: the rabbi describing to cbs how he used security training he had had in the past to distract the gunman and save himself and the other two men. >> the exit wasn't too far away. i told them to go. i threw a chair at the gunman,
and i headed for the door. and all three of us were able to get out without even a shot being fired. >> reporter: in the end, after the final confrontation with the fbi, akram was killed. it looked like to me this was just a terrific operation in every way around. no hostages got hurt. no law enforcement got hurt. so the only person that got hurt was the hostage taker. >> it was an act of terror. it was an act of terror. i want to make sure we got the word out, that synagogues and places of worship, we're not going to tolerate this. >> from the moment the standoff ended, the priority has been to understand malik faisal akram's movements since his arrival in the united states. they believe he bought the gun on the street in texas from someone he had met in a homeless shelter where he had stayed for a week prior to the standoff. >> reporter: in the uk, british police soulgt out his family,
who revealed his mental health issues. they also took his two teenage children into custody for questioning. a friend saying, his family had no idea what he was up to. >> to the best of my knowledge, the family didn't have any knowledge that he was planning to do something like this. obviously, they're in a state of shock. >> reporter: collieville now joins a list of violence targeting american synagogues. back in 2018, a gunman opened fire in pittsburgh, killing 11 people. >> we are in an environment where, whether you run a synagogue or a day school, you need to take action and be vigilant because of the very real threat of violence. >> jimmy: jonathan greenblatt, the ceo of the anti-defamation league, say many jews across the country are feeling extra vigilant tonight. last year, the department of justice released a report which
found a 42% increase in hate crimes nationally since 2014, with jews being the most targeted religious group. >> there's a lot of service paid to this issue, but we need our public officials to take action to demonstrate once and for all they stand behind the jewish community. >> this crisis may be over, but the fbi certainly feels copy cats and they have spent the last two days reaching out to the faith community to remind them to conduct security training, and to remain vigilant. >> reporter: tonight, the congregation beth israel invited members to gather together. a community mourning innocence lost. but lives saved. ♪ ♪ >> it will take time. but slowly we will heal. >> our thanks to meria. up next, novak djokovic's unforced error in australia.
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novak djokovic is not used to losing. but a panel of judges has handed him a painful defeat. leading to his deportation just ahead of the australian open, a tournament he's dominated. here's "nightline"'s correspondent. >> reporter: it was a hero's welcome, for a man whose dreams of winning his 21st grand slam just took a crushing blow. novak djokovic returning home to
belgrade, serbia this morning. this homecoming, marking the end of a tu mmultuous stay in australia, where he was expected to defend his australian open title. he was deported after failing to meet the country's can vaccine requirement. a stinging rebuke and a saga that's gripped the sports world. fuelling a conversation over the pandemic and who the rules apply to. and caught in the middle, the people of australia. the country has implemented some of the world's toughest covid-19 restrictions. >> i'm glad it's all over. i wanted to see him play. >> just glad the focus is on what we're all here for. the australian open. >> most of the players did the right thing, they knew the rules of australia. they went off and they got vaccinated. so i was surprised it got to this point, but not surprised to see novak not playing here, as he is unvaccinated. >> reporter: the djokovic family saying, we are very disappointed
with the decision of the federal court and the fact that novak has to leave australia. these are difficult times, especially for novak. but what we have to do as his family is to support him more than ever before. as the open went underway, other stars from the tennis world were grilled. what is their take on djokovic? >> i would like to see him play he here. but that's another discussion. i don't want to talk anymore more about that. >> i feel like people focus on whatever they want to. me, i'm a tennis player, so i'll focus on my matches. >> one of the greatest players of all time, so yeah, this is obviously not a nice thing for everyone, for him especially. but don't question his legacy because of this. >> for someone like yourself, a former tennis star, tennis analyst and coach, how frustrating has it been that this is the focus of the australian snoep >> every single player that's
gone into that press conference has been asked what they think about the novak djokovic situation. it's been consuming. i think the players think they wish they would make a decision one way or the other and get on with the tournament. >> reporter: it was just last week that unrest took over melbourne, australia. t djokovic released from a hotel where he had been held for case. a federal judge upholding djokovic's appeal to stay in the country, despite being unvaccinated. ahead of his attempt to depend his australian open title. djokovic creating an international firestorm by attempting to enter a country that is 92% fully vaccinated. djokovic and his team argued they entered australia according to protocol, pointing to a positive test in december that would have exempted him from the vaccine. but images surfacing of djokovic maskless after that positive test raised questions. djokovic later admitting in a
instagram post that he did an interview and photo shoot while having covid-19. saying he felt obliged to do the interview. but socially distanced and a mask. djokovic's positive covid test and long fight to stay in australia sparked anger and frustration in the country. >> people here in australia have been through a lot. the main message is get vaccinated, and you'll get your lives back and we can get business going here in australia. that's why people here in australia are so passionate about getting the vaccination. >> reporter: like many around the world, australians have been hard hit by covid-19. just in the last 24 hours, more than 55,000 positive cases have been reported in the country. tlout the pandemic, australia fought the spread with tight border policies. for the most part, it worked. resulting in one of the world's
lowest covid mortality rate s before the omicron spike. now fans are anticipating the possibility of the superstar being barred from the french open. france just passing a law to have a vaccination. and the sports minister confirming there is no exceptions. do you see them bending to the vaccine mandates? >> i can't answer that. i think novak is a good guy, but sometimes it's the execution with some of the stuff that he has, and his ideas that are not great. and this whole australian open vaccine thing is another example of that, where the execution wasn't great. >> jimm >> reporter: djokovic or not, australians and fans are able to focus on what they look forward to most. tennis. >> once the tournament starts, we concentrate on the great players that are still here. and it will still be an amazing tournament.
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finally tonight, on this holiday honoring the reverend martin luther king, jr., we remember the civil rights pioneer. here's abc's rick johnson. >> reporter: 54 years after his death, dr. martin luther king, jr.'s words just as powerful in this time. this is the letter he wrote while in a birmingham jail in 1963. >> justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. we are caught in an inescapable network of whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. >> reporter: and this would be his final sunday sermon, at washington national cathedral four days before his death.
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