Five adults arrested in a raid of a compound near Amalia in Taos County last summer are now facing federal terrorism charges never before filed in New Mexico, according to a press release from the …
Updated March 14 at 8 p.m.
Five adults arrested during a raid of a compound in Taos County in August 2018 are now facing federal terrorism, kidnapping and firearms charges, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice.
A federal grand jury in Albuquerque returned an indictment on Wednesday (March 13) charging Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, 40; Jany Leveille, 36; Lucas Morton, 41; Hujrah Wahhaj, 38; and Subhannah Wahhaj, 36, with the new federal offenses.
Federal charges were first filed against the five on Sept. 11 in an indictment charging possession of firearms and ammunition by an alien living in the United States illegally.
Investigators say Leveille is an illegal immigrant from Haiti, and prosecutors had presented evidence to suggest she and the four other adults were planning to train 11 children rescued from the compound to carry out attacks on government institutions. Charges related to their alleged plot, however, were not filed until this week.
Taos County Sheriff's Deputies who raided their makeshift desert home near the Colorado border on Aug. 3 said conditions inside were filthy, with little food or water available to the children. Photos taken at the scene showed a shooting range, stockpiles of weapons, ammunition and a 100-foot tunnel which prosecutors say was meant to be used as an escape route.
In the days following the raid, investigators searched for Siraj Ibn Wahhaj's 3-year-old son, Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, who had been reported missing in Georgia by his mother in 2017. They found the toddler buried inside the tunnel on Aug. 6, the day the boy would have turned four.
Child abuse charges were filed by the 8th Judicial District Attorney's Office in Taos, but after prosecutors missed a deadline to provide a preliminary examination, the cases were dropped and federal charges were quickly filed.
Wednesday's indictment charges all of the defendants with conspiring from October 2017 to August 2018 "to provide material support and resources, including currency, training, weapons, and personnel, knowing and intending that they were to be used in preparation for and in carrying out attacks to kill officers and employees of the United States ..."
“The superseding indictment alleges a conspiracy to stage deadly attacks on American soil,” said U.S. Attorney John C. Anderson. “These allegations remind us of the dangers of terrorism that continue to confront our nation, and the allegation concerning the death of a young child only underscores the importance of prompt and effective intervention by law enforcement. I commend our law enforcement partners for their ongoing diligence and outstanding work in identifying and disabling imminent threats of targeted violence.”
An arraignment on the new charges is set for next week in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque.
This is a developing story.
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