Federal Bureau of Investigation arrests New Mexico compound members

Federal Bureau of Investigation arrests New Mexico compound members

The FBI arrested five people at a New Mexico compound on charges of violating federal firearms and conspiracy laws, local NPR affiliate KRWG reported Friday.

Despite mounting evidence, no terrorism charges have been brought against the suspects who remain in custody and are due in court on Tuesday.

Three of the defendants, Lucas Morton, his wife, Subhannah Wahhaj, and her sister Hujrah Wahhaj, had charges dropped against them on Wednesday, leading them to be released, Reuters reported. The 11 children found at the compound, reportedly malnourished and poorly cared for, have been in state care since the raid.

The remains of 3-year-old Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj's son, were found in a tunnel at the compound a few days later.

District Attorney Donald Gallegos said he had dropped the charges without prejudice because his office would not be able to prepare for a preliminary hearing within the required 10 days - the reason the initial child neglect charges were dismissed. Three of the defendants, Hujrah Wahhaj, Subhannah Wahhaj, and Lucas Morton had been released from jail on Thursday.

Defendant Jany Leveille (L to R) sits next to her defense lawyer Kelly Golightley, defendant Siraj Ibn Wahhaj and his defense lawyer Tom Clark at hearing in Taos County District Court in Taos County, New Mexico, U.S., August 29, 2018. Leveille is originally from Haiti and has been in the US illegally since December 1998, the complaint says.

Prosecutors accuse Siraj Ibn Wahhaj of training the children to commit school shootings using a short-distance shooting range that had been installed on the compound. If convicted of aiding and abetting Leveille, Leveille's co-defendants each face a statutory maximum penalty of ten years of imprisonment. According to an anonymous source cited in the complaint, Leveille had trained with a gun and fired it once at the compound, as well.

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Investigators say the pair denied the child medication and subjected him to prayer rituals they believed would dispel "demons or devils" from the boy's body.

According to the federal complaint, one child told the FBI that Abdul-Ghani died in February, but Leveille wrote in her journal that the boy died on Christmas Eve 2017.

The Muslim compound was discovered via surveillance of an Federal Bureau of Investigation drone in May, as reported by Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe, which led to a police raid in early August to find Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj - the missing three-year-old boy whose remains were later found.

One of the notes found at the compound is titled "Phases of a Terrorist Attack" and offers guidelines to "the one-time terrorist" and suggests an "ideal" place to commit a terrorist attack. The occupants of the compound were "most likely heavily armed and considered extremist of the Muslim belief", an official said at the time. She entered the country in NY on a tourist visa that allowed for a six-month stay in 1998 but had never obtained lawful residency, the complaint says. She received no more visas, the complaint says. He and Leveille, his partner, had been charged with child abuse resulting in death.

His statement said that cases against the other adults will also be presented to a grand jury.

"Had the cases gone to preliminary hearing within the 10 days as required, it would be almost impossible to get all the witnesses, documents, exhibits, statements, etc., that would be required to have the court make a finding of probable cause", a Taos DA's Office press release said.

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