Federal police officers arrested the five people who were found in a remote New Mexico complex along with 11 children in early August with violations of federal firearms and conspiracy laws, they announced Friday.
The case of the group Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, 40; Jany Leveille, 35; Hujrah Wahhaj, 37; Subhannah Wahhaj, 35; and Lucas Morton, 40, was closely scrutinized after the security forces raided the area, saying that the group members were Muslim "extremists," and accused them of nearly a dozen child abuse cases each. But several judges said that the prosecutors did little to prove the allegations in the case, and recently two judges rejected the child abuse charge against the group after prosecutors missed a window in the pre-trial for evidence , Three of the defendants, Hujrah Wahhaj, Subhannah Wahhaj and Lucas Morton, were released from prison on Thursday.
A judge, Sarah Backus, said that in court there was no evidence that the confiscated weapons were illegally owned. But federal officials said that Leveille, who is from Haiti, is an illegal immigrant, and she is being charged with firearms and ammunition for lack of legal residence. The other four defendants are accused of aiding and abetting the alleged offense. Leville is facing a possible sentence of up to 1
The arrests mark the most recent turn in the case, which has garnered wide attention for its glaring details and allegations of links to terrorism. It has also attracted conspiracy theories and a day of violent threats against a judge so severe that a New Mexico court was closed for one afternoon.
Law enforcement officers said they found 11 weapons on the dirty property in Amalia, near the state border with Colorado, earlier this month. They also said that they found ammunition, high-capacity magazines, a bullet-proof vest and 11 children between the ages of 1 and 15 who were described by the police as being neglected. The body of 3-year-old son of Ibn Wahhaj, Abdul-Ghani, who suffered from severe health problems including seizures, was also found on the property. Although the case was originally set up by the Taos County Sheriff Office and the district attorney representing the area, federal agencies had been involved for some time, officials said after the raid. But the sheriff's office also said that the federal authorities "did not believe at the time that there were sufficient grounds to get on the property."
At least five of the guns were transported in Leville's car from Georgia or Alabama to New Mexico, says the federal complaint against them. According to an anonymous source quoted in the complaint, Leveille had trained with a gun and fired her once on the grounds.
Elizabeth Martinez, a spokeswoman for the US Attorney's office in New Mexico, said the defendants would not have done so in the federal case. Lawyers from the dismissed cases of the suspects could not be reached immediately.
Tom Clark, an attorney for Ibn Wahhaj, told Reuters that the prosecution was not a good development for the group.
"Whenever someone gets into the crosshairs the federal government is problematic," he said. "It'll never be good if you're under federal prosecution."
The lawsuit also contained more allegations about the nature of the compound and the alleged intentions of the suspects.
According to an anonymous witness cited in the federal complaint, Leveille wanted to bring a child to the property to perform an exorcism there to throw the demons out of his body. After he was resurrected, the boy told them what corrupt institutions they had to get rid of, which the witness said, including teachers. Military, law enforcement and financial institutions, said the complaint. This witness, as well as another, who was also not named, said that they believed that meant killing or incarcerating people who did not believe as they had.] The first witness also told the investigators that Ibn Wahhaj wanted to bring an army together and train them for the "jihad" that the witness believed he wanted to kill people in the name of Allah s and Ibn Wahhaj were both engaged in weapon training on the site, claims the lawsuit.
Leveille was the leader on the site, who ordered the group to surrender when they were faced with law enforcement during the raid. She entered the country in New York on a tourist visa that allowed her six months in 1998 but never obtained a valid residence permit.
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