5 suspects at New Mexico compound face terror charges

2 years 9 months 4 weeks ago Wednesday, March 20 2019 Mar 20, 2019 March 20, 2019 11:41 PM March 20, 2019 in News - AP National

Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Five extended family members who lived at a ramshackle New Mexico compound where a 3-year-old boy was found dead last year are due in federal court Thursday to face new charges that they plotted attacks on U.S. law enforcement and members of the military.

A federal grand jury last week indicted the five on charges including conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists between late 2017 and August 2018. Authorities said the group travelled from Georgia to New Mexico and lived on a remote property, where they built a makeshift settlement consisting of a camping trailer wedged into the desert and shielded by stacked tires.

The suspects have been in custody since their compound was raided in August, when authorities said they found 11 hungry children living in filth, guns and ammunition, a firing range, and the remains of the young boy, Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj. They were looking for the boy at the request of his mother in Georgia when they found the compound.

The boy was the son of Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, one of the five adults living at the compound, and had suffered from a medical condition that caused seizures, authorities said. He and Jany Leveille, whom Wahhaj considers his wife, had held hours-long prayer rituals over the boy in the days leading to his death, but denied him medication because Leveille believed it suppressed Muslim beliefs, authorities said.

She also believed the boy would be resurrected as Jesus and give instructions on how to get rid of corrupt institutions that involve teachers, law enforcement and banks, an FBI agent testified in court last year.

Authorities also have accused Wahhaj and others of transporting weapons across state lines, and training children at a firing range on the property to carry out shootings and other attacks that never occurred.

The suspects' attorneys have disputed the allegations, saying they are based on the uncorroborated statements of children.

They plan to plead not guilty at their arraignment, the attorneys said.

All the suspects, except Wahhaj, also have been charged with participating in the kidnapping of his son.

Federal statutes generally only allow for charging parents with abducting their own children in international cases.

The results of an autopsy are still pending.

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