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Federal jury convicts four New Mexico compound defendants in ‘terrorism’ plot

Courtesy of the FBI.

A federal jury indicted Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, his sisters Hujrah Wahhaj and Subhanah Wahhaj, and Subhanah’s husband, Lucas Morton, for supporting terrorism.

After a three-week trial, the jury convicted Siraj Wahhaj and Lucas Morton of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, providing material support to terrorists and conspiracy to murder an officer or employee of the United States, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of New Mexico.

Additionally, Hujrah Wahhaj, Subhanah Wahhaj, and Lucas Morton received convictions of conspiracy to commit kidnapping, resulting in death, and kidnapping, resulting in death.

A fifth defendant, Jany Leveille, pled guilty to conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and possessing a firearm while unlawfully in the United States.

In December 2017, Siraj Wahhaj unlawfully abducted his three-year-old son, Abdul Ghani, from his wife, who lived in Georgia.

Levelle and the defendants believed that Abul Ghani was her son and that she was possessed by demons.

The defendants took Ghani to New Mexico, deprived him of his anti-seizure medication and his mother's care, and did daily spiritual exorcisms on him.

The child died less than two weeks after coming to New Mexico; it happened before investigators had a suspected location to search for the child.

"Under Leveille’s direction, Siraj and the others established a community centered on the belief that Abdul Ghani would return as Jesus Christ to pass judgment on corrupt institutions, including the FBI, the military, and other government and financial institutions," the release said. "To this end, they established a fortified base and a firing range. Armed with 11 firearms, including an AR-15 Bushmaster assault rifle, high-capacity magazines, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, the group conducted weapons and tactical training and required some of the children to do so as well. The group conducted the training with the intent to 'face the nation' and kill those who refused to believe as they did. They spoke of waging jihad and becoming martyrs."

In August 2018, the Taos County Sheriff’s Office Tactical SRT Unit executed warrants on the compound.

Siraj Wahhaj was armed and prepared to defend the compound, but law enforcement took him into custody without a shot being fired. Law enforcement found the child's remains in an underground tunnel.

In her plea agreement, Leveille admitted that she agreed with her co-conspirators to "provide material support and resources to prepare for, and to carry out, the killing of federal officers or employees when they came to the compound."

Leveille also said she knew she was in the United States illegally and not allowed to possess a firearm or ammunition.

“When a mother loses her child, we all lose a child,” United States Attorney Alexander Uballez said in the release. “It is our collective responsibility to protect our children from danger and, when we lose a child, it is our solemn duty in law enforcement to ensure that those who are responsible receive justice. My thanks go out to the many local, state, and federal law enforcement officers who worked tirelessly to deliver that justice, and my heart goes out to the mother of Abdul Ghani.”

The four defendants are in custody pending sentencing.

Siraj, Hujrah and Subhanah Wahhaj, and Lucas Morton all face up to a life sentence in prison. Meanwhile, Leveille faces up to 17 years in prison.

The FBI Albuquerque Field Office investigated the case with help from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, the Taos County Sheriff’s Office, the NM Office of the Superintendent of Insurance, and the 8th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

This story was written by Tom Joyce and has been republished here from The Center Square.