More federal charges filed in Amalia case

Courtesy photo A worried mother holding materials regarding her son, Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, who went missing in 2017. His father, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, shown at right with his attorney, has been connected with the child's death. His remains were found on what would have been his fourth birthday.

AMALIA, N.M. — Investigation at an alleged terrorist compound less than 30 miles south of San Luis has yielded additional federal charges by way of a Superseding Indictment have been filed as a result of the Taos County Sheriff’s initiative and investigation into the so-called “Amalia Five.”

The story began much earlier, but came to light in summer of 2018 on a remote site with a small camping trailer within a surrounding wall of car tires.

It was home to five adults and 11 malnourished, poorly clad and dirty children aged 1 to 15.

An intensive search revealed a dead child in the compound’s 100-foot “escape” tunnel.

Court documents alleged the children had been trained for shootings at schools.

The adults were served March 13 with federal terrorism, kidnapping and firearms charges. All are in custody.

A federal grand jury in Albuquerque, N.M. returned an indictment charging Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, 40; Jany Leveille, 36; Lucas Morton, 41; Hujrah Wahhaj, 38; and Subhannah Wahhaj, 36, with the new federal offenses.

Federal charges were filed Sept. 11 against the five including an indictment charging possession of firearms and ammunition by Leveille, a Haitian immigrant living in the United States illegally.

Prosecutors presented evidence to suggest she and the four other adults were planning to train the children to carry out attacks on government institutions.

Extensive charges related to that alleged plot, however, were not filed until March 13.

Taos County Sheriff’s Deputies who raided their makeshift desert home near the Colorado border on Aug. 3 said conditions inside were filthy, with little food or water available to the children.

Photos taken at the scene, however, showed a shooting range, stockpiles of weapons, ammunition and a 100- foot tunnel which is believed to have been meant to be used as an escape route.

In the days following the raid, investigators searched for Siraj Ibn Wahhaj’s three-year-old son, Abdul- Ghani Wahhaj, who had been reported missing in Georgia by his mother in 2017. They found the boy’s remains on what would have been his fourth birthday.

Child abuse charges were filed by the 8th Judicial District Attorney’s Office in Taos, but after prosecutors missed a deadline to provide a preliminary examination, the cases were dropped and federal charges were quickly filed.

Wednesday’s indictment charges all of the defendants with conspiring from October 2017 to August 2018 “to provide material support and resources, including currency, training, weapons, and personnel, knowing and intending that they were to be used in preparation for and in carrying out attacks to kill officers and employees of the United States ...”

“The superseding indictment alleges a conspiracy to stage deadly attacks on American soil,” said U.S. Attorney John C. Anderson. “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. I commend our law enforcement partners for their ongoing diligence and outstanding work in identifying and disabling imminent threats of targeted violence.”

The Taos County Sheriff’s Office (TCSO) stepped up, secured the search warrant, planed the approach, took the extreme risk, taking five adults into custody – some of whom were heavily armed and saved 11 starving children.

The latest indictment paperwork includes factual information that the TCSO’s actions that early morning no doubt disabled a terroristic training camp, says Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe. “I will forever know in my mind that this terroristic group had a dastardly intent and if not for us stepping up they would have very soon been known worldwide for a terroristic attack or more likely multiple terroristic attacks on US soil.”

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