TAOS COUNTY, N.M. — A family who allegedly lived on a compound where a missing boy was found dead now faces new terror-related charges.
On March 13, a federal grand jury indicted Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, 40, Lucas Morten, 41, Jany Leveille, 36, Hujrah Wahhaj, 38, and Subhannah Wahhaj, 36, charging them with allegedly plotting to carry out terrorism.
11Alive first reported on the story in 2017 when the mother of then-3-year-old Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj told police he was taken by his father, Siraj, from his Clayton County home.
Tips eventually led authorities to a squalid desert compound in Taos County, New Mexico, which they raided in August 2018. Siraj, Morten and the three women were all arrested as a result, and 11 children - believed to be the children of the women - were placed in custody of the state.
Family confirmed to 11Alive that Hujrah, and Subhannah are Siraj's sisters and one of them is married to Morten. The third woman, Jany, has children with Siraj.
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After the raid, there was no sign of Abdul at the compound, but after days of searching, investigators found a body on Aug. 6 in the inner portion of the property confirmed to be that of missing of the 5-year-old.
Authorities said both Morten and Siraj were heavily armed when they went to arrest them, but they were taken into custody without incident. Morten was charged with harboring a fugitive and Siraj was booked on a no-bond Georgia warrant for child abduction. The women were eventually released.
Warrants 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 Abdul 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 failed to prove they had a plan for danger and citing the suspects' lack of criminal history. However, the Taos County District Attorney said he is planning to file an appeal. Siraj was not granted bond because of the Jonesboro kidnapping charge.
Authorities initially charged the five defendants in September 2018 with conspiracy relating to the possession of firearms and ammunition.
This new indictment, however, allege the group did more than just allegedly stockpile weapons. It states the group participated in a conspiracy from October 2017 to August 2018 to provide training to carry out attacks on members of the military and the FBI, as well as government officials. (Read the full indictment)
“The superseding indictment alleges a conspiracy to stage deadly attacks on American soil,” said U.S. Attorney John C. Anderson in the announcement. "he allegation concerning the death of a young child only underscores the importance of prompt and effective intervention by law enforcement."
All of the defendants are in custody and are awaiting trial.
UPDATE MARCH 21
All five suspects pleaded not guilty to the charges in a federal court in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
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