Judge Dismisses Charges In Suspected Terrorist Compound Case Due To Technicality
Amalia, NM – A judge dismissed the charges against three of five suspects arrested for child abuse in the remote Taos County compound case because prosecutors missed the hearing deadline.
Judge Emilio Chavez ruled that Lucas Morton, Subhannah Wahhaj, and Hujrah Wahha could not be held in custody because prosecutors had missed the 10-day limit to hold an evidentiary hearing to establish probable cause for the child neglect charges, the Associated Press reported.
The father of the missing three-year-old boy whose remains were found on the property, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, and his partner Jany Leveille were due in court on Wednesday afternoon to face charges of child abuse resulting in death.
The new charges against the two stemmed from a detailed account of the child’s death prosecutors read in a journal they believe was written by Leveille, according to the Associated Press.
Chavez ruled that Morton, Subhannah Wahhaj, and Hujrah Wahhaj could be released as early as Wednesday, depending on the next steps the prosecutor took.
Prosecutors have argued for all five suspects to be kept in custody, and said they were planning to offer the court new evidence of an anti-government plot, according to the Associated Press.
They said the 11 children rescued from the compound have told investigators about extensive talk of jihad and martyrdom by the adults at the bunker in the New Mexico desert.
Morton said he wanted to die in a jihad as a martyr, and both Leveille and Subhannah Wahhaj joked about dying in Jihad, the Associated Press reported.
Earlier court documents said the children told investigators they were being trained to "confront corrupt institutions or individuals.”
On Friday, prosecutors revealed that Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta was one of the “corrupt institutions” that was the target of a planned terrorist attack by Siraj Ibn Wahhaj and Leveille.
Documents submitted to the court included a 10-page hand-written document found at the compound called "Phases of a Terrorist Attack,” WSB-TV reported.
At the hearing on Aug. 24, prosecutors made a second unsuccessful run at having the suspects held without bond after a judge released all five of them on signature bonds on Aug. 14.
A signature bond requires no money and is a signed promise from the defendants that they will return to court.
Authorities first entered the compound on Aug. 3 as they searched for the missing three-year-old boy.
That was when they found 11 starving and abused children ranging in age from one to 15, all being held at the property.
Police found the remains of a deceased child on the property, and determined it was the body of Siraj Ibn Wahhaj’s missing son Abdul-Ghani, who would have turned four years old the day before investigators raided the compound.
Authorities have not yet determined the cause and manner of the little boy’s death, WHSV reported.
The 11 children found alive on the property were removed into the custody of child protective services and put into foster homes.
A foster parent who was taking care of one of the children told Taos County authorities that the child said that Siraj Ibn Wahhaj "had trained the child in the use of an assault rifle in preparation for future school shootings.”
Court records that were filed at the start of the investigation revealed that Siraj Ibn Wahhaj had been conducting weapons training at the off-the-grid compound located near the Colorado border, the Associated Press reported.
Police first became involved when Siraj Ibn Wahhaj allegedly took his son from Georgia in December of 2017 because he wanted to perform an exorcism on him.
The boy’s mother told police that Siraj Ibn Wahhaj thought his son was possessed by the devil.
According to a warrant, Abdul-Ghani suffered from seizures and hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, a birth defect caused by lack of oxygen and blood flow, and also could not walk.
Siraj Ibn Wahhaj told the boy’s mother he was taking his son to the park and never brought him back home, according to an extradition warrant that has been filed with the court by Clayton County, Georgia authorities.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Agent Travis Taylor testified that the two teens who had been rescued from the compound had said Siraj Ibn Wahhaj would lead rituals that were focused on his son and included reading from the Quran, KOB reported.
"During these rituals, per witness statements, the victim, Abdul (Ghani Wahhaj) would begin to choke and have white foam or slime come from his mouth and then pass out," Agent Taylor said.
He said the children were led to believe that the sick child "would become Jesus" when his demons were exorcised. According to KOB, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj told them that once his son "became Jesus," he would tell the occupants of the compound which corrupt institutions to get rid of.
The last known sighting of the little boy was on Dec. 13, 2017, when Siraj Ibn Wahhaj was involved in a single-vehicle car accident in Chilton County, Alabama. There were six children and three adults total in the vehicle when it crashed.
Siraj Ibn Wahhaj told responding officers that the group was headed to New Mexico on a camping trip.
Police arrested a total of five adults at the squalid northern New Mexico compound where the child’s body was ultimately found.
None of the adults found at the property revealed Abdul-Ghani’s location to authorities, but prosecutors said they believed the child had been dead since December of 2017.