New Mexico Compound Suspects Expected to Be Released on Bond

Jack Phillips
By Jack Phillips
August 14, 2018US News
share

The suspects accused of keeping 11 children in squalid conditions at a New Mexico compound are expected to be released on bond, which goes against the wishes of the FBI, prosecutors, and the Taos County Sheriff’s Department.

Judge Sarah Backus said the suspects—Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, 40; Lucas Morton, 40; Jany Leveille, 35; Hujrah Wahhaj, 37; and Subhannah Wahhaj, 35—can be released on $20,000 bond each on Aug. 13. They were ordered to wear ankle monitors, ABC News reported.

The two men and three women were arrested last week at a makeshift compound in Amalia. The sheriff’s department said they found 11 emaciated children living in filthy conditions.

The Taos County sheriff, the undersheriff, prosecutors, and an FBI agent in the case said that the five shouldn’t be released, KOAT reported.

State prosecutors said there was evidence that some of the suspects could have been planning an attack, adding that Wahhaj, who faces child abduction charges in Georgia, took weapons classes and books found at the compound described how to build firearms, KOAT reported.

During the Aug. 3 raid, weapons and ammunition were found. Officials said that the children were allegedly told how to load and fire assault rifles, according to the KOAT report.

A defense attorney said that prosecutors’ claims were too vague. “In this particular case, again, based on what was presented to the judge, I think she had no choice but to rule in the way that she did,” one of the defense attorneys told KOB-TV. 

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, meanwhile, said that she “strongly disagreed” with Backus’s decision. “Unfortunately, it highlights how extreme the New Mexico Supreme Court has been in dictating pretrial release for all kinds of dangerous criminals,” she said.

Wahhaj also apparently received a letter from his brother that invited him to go to New Mexico to die as a martyr, according to KOAT. In an initial statement on the arrests, Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said, “We had learned the occupants were most likely heavily armed and considered extremist of the Muslim belief.”

Conditions at a compound in rural New Mexico where 11 children were taken into protective custody for their own health and safety after a raid by authorities, are shown in this photo near Amalia, N.M., provided Aug. 6, 2018. (Taos County Sheriff's Office/Handout via Reuters)
Conditions at a compound in rural New Mexico where 11 children were taken into protective custody for their own health and safety after a raid by authorities, are shown in this photo near Amalia, N.M., provided Aug. 6, 2018. (Taos County Sheriff’s Office/Handout via Reuters)

Elder Siraj Wahhaj Speaks Out

Siraj Wahhaj, the father of the suspect who is a Muslim imam, told CBS News from New York City that “my son can be maybe a little bit extreme.” He said that the children on the compound were his grandchildren.

“I’m very concerned with the condition of my grandchildren,” he said.

In the interview, he also said that remains found on the compound belong to his 3-year-old grandson. He said he didn’t know the cause of death, adding that family members told him. “Whoever is responsible, then that person should be held accountable,” Wahhaj said.

The elder Wahhaj’s mosque has drawn radicals in the past, including the man who tried to bomb the World Trade Center in 1993. “Wahhaj has espoused support for radical Muslim causes and was an unindicted co-conspirator in the [bombing],” states a 2011 training material for new FBI agents.

He reportedly expressed a preference for an Islamic state over the American constitutional republic and also appeared as a defense witness at the trial of the “Blind Sheikh” Omar Abdel-Rahman, who was convicted in 1995 of plotting terrorist attacks in the United States.

The elder Wahhaj didn’t respond to requests for comment. Naeemah Rashid Wahhaj said in a Facebook message that the family was not ready to talk and didn’t wish for her or anyone to talk either.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

ntd newsletter icon
Sign up for NTD Daily
What you need to know, summarized in one email.
Stay informed with accurate news you can trust.
By registering for the newsletter, you agree to the Privacy Policy.
Comments