New evidence revealed in a court filing on Friday further suggests that the five adults arrested earlier this month on charges of child abuse at a rural New Mexico compound were running a terrorist training camp. Those arrested include Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, his sisters Hujrah Wahhaj and Subhannah Wahhaj, Subhannah’s husband, Lucas Allen Morton, and a women an FBI agent involved in the case identified as Wahhaj’s “Islamic wife,” Jany Leveille.
Officials also took custody of the Wahhajs’ 11 children, placing them with the state’s child protective services. A few days later, agents discovered, in a tunnel on the sprawling property, the corpse of Siraj Ibn Wahhaj’s three-year old son, Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, whom he had kidnapped in Georgia late last year from his estranged wife, Hakima Ramzi.
The Wahhaj siblings’ father is the senior Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, who according to National Review Online’s Andrew McCarthy is “a well-known (some would say notorious) sharia-supremacist imam who runs a mosque in Brooklyn (Masjid al-Taqwa).” In January, following the kidnapping of his three-year-old grandson, the imam made an appeal on Facebook for information on the whereabouts of his children and 12 grandchildren.
Later, according to the senior Wahhaj, one of his daughters asked for help from a man in Atlanta, saying they were starving at the New Mexico compound. The Atlanta contact passed the information to the imam, who told the authorities, resulting in the early-August raid.
Taos County District Attorney Donald Gallegos filed charges of child abuse against the five adults, while Siraj Ibn Wahhaj and Morton faced additional charges related to the kidnapping. The prosecutor sought to detain the adults while the investigation continued, arguing the defendants presented a risk to the community given the cache of weapons recovered from the compound and statements by some of the children that they were being trained to attack schools and other locations.
Two weeks ago, a state court judge denied the government’s request to detain the defendants pending trial and ordered their release on a $20,000 “signature bond,” which means money is paid to the court only if the defendants violate the terms of release—nothing is paid up front. The terms of release the judge set merely required the defendants to wear a GPS tether, cooperate with child protective services, and obtain suitable housing.
Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, however, is not eligible for release because of the outstanding warrant from Georgia related to the kidnapping, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement took custody of Leveille beause she is a native of Haiti, according to USA Today.
On Friday, the DA filed a motion asking the court to reconsider its decision to release the defendants on bond. That motion detailed the evidence known to date, including some just discovered, which strongly suggests that the Wahhaj family had turned their rural compound into a terrorist training camp. Inexplicably, though, the mainstream media has moved on from this story or, in the case of CNN, has decided that terrorists-in-training make for an interesting personal-interest story.
Tweeting its article under the caption “New Mexico compound family struggled with life off the grid,” CNN linked to its sympathetic profile of the Wahhaj family living in the rural southwest. Rather than detail the circumstances surrounding the raid and the arrests of the siblings and their spouses, CNN instead painted a touching portrait of the parental figures.
“One of the men tenderly wiped the nose of a crying child,” a local resident who saw the group during a rare outing to the city told CNN. Sure, the defendants are accused of training their children to shoot up schools, CNN noted in passing, but locals’ real fear is “that the publicity around a case infused with allegations of terrorism, children abuse and faith healing might contribute to a rise in racism and Islamophobia.”
The timing of CNN’s bizarre attempt to garner sympathy for the Wahhaj clan couldn’t have been worse given that Friday’s filing by Taos County’s DA summarizes disturbing evidence of the group’s intent to commit acts of terrorism. CNN, however, is not alone in going off the grid in covering this huge story of a homebuilt terrorist camp. Too busy Stormy-chasing, the entire mainstream media has ignored the recent developments in the Wahhaj case. And what hasn’t been told is terrifying.
An FBI agent testified that two of the malnurished children said “they had been trained in advanced firearms handling and had been instructed to shoot law enforcement personnel when the time came and that they would be instructed in the future to attack specific targets such as teachers, schools, banks, and other ‘corrupt institutions.’”
In his motion, the prosecutor stressed that the defendants possessed an arsenal of weapons. He included evidence from a neighbor stating that the group used the shooting range on the compound excessively. Add to that the seizure of a DVD that describes how to build an “untraceable assault rifle” at home and a book on the psychology of combat, and the picture of a group bent on a terrorist attack forms more clearly.
There is more: The prosecutor presented to the trial court a letter Morton delivered to Muhammad, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj’s brother. That letter encouraged Muhammad to follow Allah “until he makes you die as a martyr as you wanted and the only way is by joining the righteous (us).” The letter added that Muhammad should “take all your money out [of] the bank and bring you guns,” showing the Wahhajs intended to grow their fighting force beyond the 16 residents of the compound.
Agents also recovered a ten-page, handwritten document, titled “Phases of a Terrorist Attack,” from the compound. That document included instructions for “the one-time terrorist” and provided detailed instructions on determining ideal attack locations, using “choke points,” defending “safe havens,” escaping perimeter rings, and detecting sniper positions. This document indicates the defendants were not merely talking a deadly talk, but had been carefully planning an attack.
Follow-up interviews with some of the children garnered more evidence, including statements that Morton told them he “wished to die in jihad, as a martyr,” and Leveille and Subhanna Wahhaj joking about dying in jihad. The children also relayed that Leveille and Suraj intended to confront “corrupt” institutions, such as the military, CIA, and American schools, and reveal to them “the truth.” If they refused to accept the message, the children said, Leveille would provide a signal to Suraj, who would attack the individual.
The DA’s motion also states “Siraj told the group that if police ever came to the property at night, they were to defend the property using firearms.” A search of the compound revealed numerous guns located at the end of a tunnel. The children told officials the tunnel served as an escape route should authorities raid the compound.
Additionally, the government detailed several passages in a journal recently recovered from the compound, written by Leveille. Leveille’s journal makes quite clear that she is delusional. For instance, she believes that Suraj’s son, Abdul Ghani, was originally conceived in her womb, but that Hakima Ramzi used black magic to remove the fetus from Leveill’s womb and transfer him to Ramzi’s womb. Leveille’s journal also detailed the circumstances of Abdul Ghani’s death, and her revelation that “ghani would be resurrected as Jesus.”
Whether motivated by mental illness or an extremist view of violent jihad, the Wahhaj family presents a serious risk to the community. Hopefully, when the state court holds a hearing on August 29 at 1 p.m. on the DA’s motion to reconsider, the judge will agree and assure that none of the defendants remains free to execute their plans. Also, hopefully the FBI, which reportedly was monitoring the compound, doesn’t wait so long to intervene next time.