ATLANTA — This week, a federal grand jury indicted a family found living in a squalid desert compound in New Mexico with charges of plans for terrorism, including conspiring to attack and kill FBI employees, government officials and military personnel.
The indictment also includes charges related to the kidnapping of a Georgia boy.
In 2017, the mother of 3-year-old Abdul-Ghani Wahha told Clayton County Police that her son had been taken by his father, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, from his home in Jonesboro, Georgia.
Ibn Wahhaj, 40, Lucas Morten, 41, Jany Leveille, 36, Hujrah Wahhaj, 38, and Subhannah Wahhaj, 36, were all indicted by the federal grand jury on March 13.
The grand jury returned a superseding indictment, which substantially upgrades the charges previously brought against the defendants in an indictment returned in September of 2018. The 2018 indictment dealt with charges of conspiracy related to the possession of firearms and ammunition.
This superseding indictment charges all the defendants with being involved in a conspiracy beginning in October of 2017 and running until arrests in August 2018.
A Department of Justice statement claims the conspiracy included providing “material support and resources, including currency, training, weapons, and personnel, knowing and intending that they were to be used in preparation for an in carrying out attacks to kill officers and employees of the United States.”
The indictment charges Leveille, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj and Morton with conspiring to attack and kill FBI employees, government officials and military personnel.
Details of the charges include Siraj Ibn Wahhaj and Morton allegedly training “persons, including other members of the training compound, in using firearms and performing tactical maneuvers.”
Leveille and Siraj Ibn Wahhaj are accused of instructing people, “including other occupants of the training compound, to be prepared to engage in jihad, to die as martyrs, and to engage in violent acts, including killing Federal Bureau of Investigation employees, government officials and military personnel.”
If convicted, the indictment states the defendants must surrender ownership of weapons found by investigators. The list includes five pistols, three rifles, a revolver, a shotgun, approximately 500 rounds of ammunition, approximately 12 high-capacity firearms magazines, a bullet-proof vest and several other assorted firearms accessories.
Leveille, Hujrah Wahhaj, Subhanah Wahhaj, and Morton are now also charged with kidnapping and conspiracy to commit kidnapping of a boy under the age of 18. The indictment details how they allegedly took the boy from Georgia to New Mexico.
After the New Mexico compound was raided in August of 2018, there was no sign of then 4-year-old Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj. After days of searching, investigators found a body on August 6 on the property and later confirmed it was the missing boy.
During the raid authorities found 11 other children – believed to be children of the women at the compound. Those children were placed in state custody. Family of the defendants confirmed to 11Alive Hujrah, and Subhannah are Siraj's sisters and one of them is married to Morten. The third woman, Jany, has children with Siraj.
Federal prosecutors released statements Wednesday reacting to the indictment.
“Advancing beliefs through terror and violence has no place in America, and the National Security Division continues to make protecting against terrorism its top priority,” U.S. Attorney General John Demers wrote.
U.S. Attorney John C. Anderson added, “The superseding indictment alleges a conspiracy to stage deadly attacks on American soil. 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.”
Previous court documents allege the compound was a training ground for school shootings. Officials said at one point, Siraj took so much firearms training in 2015, the FBI was flagged to his actions.
Warrants in 2018 for Siraj's arrest claimed he took his son - who had a host of medical issues - to perform an exorcism on the child and was denying Abdul-Ghani medications. Authorities allege the boy died during one of those rituals.
During an Aug. 13 bond hearing, a judge initially granted the four of the suspects $20,000 bonds, determining the state of New Mexico failed to show the defendants had a plan for danger and citing the suspects' lack of criminal history. However, the Taos County District Attorney said he was planning to file an appeal. Siraj was not granted bond because of a kidnapping charge out of Clayton County.
All five defendants are now in custody and are awaiting trial.