Update: Colleyville synagogue hostages aided by FBI HRT formed after ’72 Munich Olympics

Colleyville, Texas synagogue: FBI assisting in hostage situation at Congregation Beth Israel in Dallas-Fort Worth area

Law enforcement officials said the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team was used in the operation to free hostages from a Colleyville synagogue after an 11-hour standoff.

Late Saturday, the hostages were released and the hostage-taker was declared dead at the Beth Israel synagogue.

Officials said the FBI called its Hostage Rescue Ream from Quantico, Virginia, and about 60 to 70 people arrived from Washington, according to Matt DeSarno, the special agent in charge from Dallas.

“As Chief Miller said, the FBI hostage rescue team, I consider one of the crown jewels of our organization,” DeSarno said. “Their mission is to conduct deliberate hostage rescues when necessary. In this case, we had a necessity for that. And they were successful, I’m very proud of that. I’m also extremely proud of the team of negotiators, FBI agents, local police officers who worked all day long and engaged with the subject and likely saved the lives of the subjects just through their engagement. It’s very likely the situation would have ended very badly early on in the day if we’d not had professional consistent negotiation with the subject.”

The team was formed following the 1972 Munich Olympics, where 11 Israeli athletes were taken hostage and killed. The FBI instituted the team in 1983 ahead of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.

The Hostage Rescue Team is described as the “last line of defense for federal law enforcement when it comes to high-risk missions involving terrorists, hostage-takers, and violent criminals,” according to a video on the agency’s website that marked the teams 30th anniversary.

The HRT was conceptualized as a result of this event; the same kind of approach was taken by other European countries as a result of what happened in Munich. The massacre prompted many European countries to establish permanent, professional, and immediately available counter-terrorism forces, or reorganize already existing units to such purpose. The massacre also prompted prominent arms designers and manufacturers to produce new types of weapons more suitable for counter-terrorism.

Source: Ft. Worth Star Telegram Crime Database