Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, Jany Leveille, Lucas Morton, Hujrah Wahhaj, Subhannah Wahhaj – U.S. District Court (Albuquerque), Río Grande Courtroom, Judge Kirtan Khalsa
A United States attorney in Albuquerque filed a motion this fall indicating that terrorism and kidnapping charges may be added to a federal firearms case filed against five adults arrested at a makeshift compound near Amalia in early August.
The case originated with child abuse charges filed in the Taos County court system. The five adults were charged with keeping 11 children, and a twelfth child, who was later found dead at the property, in squalid living conditions. The twelfth child suffered from seizures and was allegedly kidnapped by his father, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, from his mother’s home in Georgia in November 2017.
Firearms, high quantities of ammunition, a shooting range and materials describing how to carry out a terrorist attack were also found at the compound, located a few miles south of the Colorado border.
Allegations of an alleged plot to train the children who lived at the compound to attack “government institutions,” as detailed in a journal belonging to Leveille, were referenced in detention hearings later in the month. Records of foreign travel to Saudi Arabia and Morocco by another defendant, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, were also referenced by prosecutors. Charges related to terrorism, however, were never filed.
After Taos County prosecutors failed to hold preliminary hearings for the defendants in accordance with state deadlines, the abuse charges were dropped. The five were then arrested at the end of August on a federal complaint alleging they had provided Leveille, an undocumented Haitian immigrant, with firearms, and had aided her in crossing state lines, from Georgia to New Mexico, with the weapons.
The complaint also charged the five with conspiracy, a charge that prosecutor John C. Anderson described as “broad” in the recent motion. Anderson moved to delay a trial for the federal case, which had been set for Nov. 5, to allow both the government and the defendants time to prepare for new charges in the case. He said an ongoing federal investigation may soon bring federal charges of kidnapping and “providing material support to terrorists.”
Defense counsel for all five defendants submitted a motion at the end of October that recommended language of “unnecessary and extraordinarily inflammatory and prejudicial allegations of terrorism and mistreatment of children” be struck from the case. They argued that such claims did not pertain to the charges filed and would unfairly bias a jury.
As for the possible terrorism charge, the defense attorneys argued that no connection has been drawn between their clients and any known terrorist group.
The defendants are currently detained, following a September finding by federal Judge Kirtan Khalsa that all five posed a danger to the community.
For more on this case, refer to our past coverage online at bit.ly/2EeiDwN.