FBI arrests New Mexico compound residents on conspiracy charges
Five first held on August 3rd after police found gun cache and 11 children with no food, water
Jany Leveille (left) sits next to her defence lawyer Kelly Golightley while Siraj Ibn Wahhaj (second right) sits with his lawyer Tom Clark at hearing in Taos County District Court in New Mexico. Photograph: Eddie Moore/Pool via Reuters.
Five residents of a compound in New Mexico in the US have been arrested by the FBI for violating firearms and conspiracy laws in what one of their lawyers described as a bad development for the group.
Jany Leveille (35); Siraj Ibn Wahhaj (40); Hujrah Wahhaj (37); Subhanah Wahhaj (35); and Lucas Morton (40) are accused of planning anti-government attacks. They were charged in criminal complaints filed in US District Court in New Mexico, the FBI said.
The arrests and charges came two days after two judges dismissed child abuse charges against the five defendants on procedural grounds and allowed three to be released from jail in Taos.
The FBI said it arrested the defendants “without incident” in Taos.
Marie Legrand Miller, defence attorney for Hujrah Wahhaj, called the arrests “a very quick and peaceful turn-in”.
Tom Clark, Ibn Wahhaj’s lawyer, said the arrests were not a huge surprise as the FBI had been “involved from the beginning”.
The five defendants, who are all black and Muslim, came under FBI surveillance in May at their remote settlement north of Taos after Leveille sent a letter to Ibn Wahhaj’s brother asking him to join them and become a “martyr,” state prosecutors said on August 13th.
The five were first arrested following an August 3rd raid by the sheriff that found a cache of firearms and 11 children with no food or clean water, according to charges. Three days later police found the body of Ibn-Wahhaj’s missing three-year-old son in a tunnel at the compound.
State prosecutors accused the five of training two of their teenage boys for attacks on “corrupt institutions”.
The five have yet to be charged over the allegations.
The federal complaint charges Leveille, a Haitian national, with being in the United States illegally and unlawfully in possession of firearms and ammunition. The other defendants are charged with aiding and conspiring with her.
The defendants face maximum sentences of between five and 10 years if convicted. Their first court hearing is on Tuesday in Albuquerque, the FBI said.
Lawyers for the other three defendants were not immediately available for comment. - Reuters