Compound held 11 children who were allegedly being trained to conduct school shootings, and the remains of a toddler.
Last summer, FBI arrested five Muslim extremist suspects connected to the New Mexico compound where eleven malnourished children found and the remains of a missing three-year-old boy were discovered.
The children were allegedly being trained to conduct school shootings. Federal authorities later destroyed the compound.
Now, the 5 are being charged by federal authorities with terror, kidnapping and firearms offenses.
“The indictment alleges that the defendants conspired to provide material support in preparation for violent attacks against federal law enforcement officers and members of the military,” Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers for the Department of Justice’s National Security Division said.
Jany Leveille, 36, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, 40, Hurjah Wahhaj, 38, Subhanah Wahhaj, 36, and Lucas Morton, 41, were charged “with federal offenses related to terrorism, kidnapping and firearms violations,” the Department of Justice said in a press release. In the original indictment, Leveille was also charged with “possessing firearms and ammunition as an alien illegally and unlawfully in the United States.”
The suspects were previously charged by indictment on Sept. 11 “with a conspiracy relating to the possession of firearms and ammunition by an alien illegally and unlawfully in the United States,” the DOJ said.
Attorneys for the 5 defendants are arguing that the uncorroborated testimony of the children is being unfairly used against their clients. Meanwhile, federal prosecutors are laying out what seems to be a fairly robust case.
“The defendants in this case allegedly were preparing for deadly attacks and their targets included law enforcement and military personnel, the very people who are committed to protecting all of us,” Michael McGarrity, director of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division, said in a statement Thursday.
All the suspects, except Wahhaj, also have been charged with participating in the kidnapping of Abdul-ghani Wahhaj, the boy who died after prosecutors say he had been denied medication for seizures. Jany Leveille, a leader of the group, believed medication suppressed Muslim beliefs, authorities said.
Because authorities say the 2017 abduction ultimately resulted in the boy’s death, the kidnapping count against Leveille, Hujrah Wahhaj, Subhana Wahhaj and Lucas Morton carries a potential sentence of life in prison or the death penalty should prosecutors win a conviction against them and decide to pursue the maximum punishment in the case.
The statement from the Justice Department, however, did not specify the motivation for these acts.
The Justice Department did not say what beliefs the group is thought to have been attempting to promote, but prosecutors have in the past referred to the group as Islamic extremists.
Amy Sirignano, one of a group of attorneys appointed by the federal Administrative Office of the Courts to represent the defendants, declined comment “until we learn more about the new charges. All of our clients will be pleading not guilty at the arraignment next week.”