FILE – August. 13, 2018 pool file photo shows suspects, from left, Jany Leveille, Luke Morton, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj and Subbannah Wahhaj entering the court in Taos, N. M., for a detention hearing. Five former residents of a New Mexico compound where authorities found 11 children who suffer from hunger and death 3-year-old boy by the federal court on terrorism-related charges. The two men and three women who live on the compound raided in August will be indicted Thursday, March 21, 2019, at new costs of the support plans for violent attacks. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal via AP, Pool, File)
ALBUQUERQUE, N. M. – Five people were arrested on a rickety New Mexico compound where one of the suspect’s sons was found dead pleaded not guilty Thursday in the federal terrorism-related charges and other counts that their lawyers say that the group would not be faced if they are not Muslims.
The two men and three women have been accused of conspiring to support planned attacks on AMERICAN police officers, soldiers and employees of the government, while living on the edge of Amalia, just south of the Colorado border.
They have been in federal custody since last August on firearms charges that accuse them of conspiring to provide weapons and ammunition to Jany Leveille, one of the five and a leader of the group of Haiti and was living in the country illegally.
The group travelled at the end of 2017 from Georgia to New Mexico, where they built their compound in an area dotted with a number of the region’s signature “earthship” self-built houses.
“This case is about the freedom of religion, freedom of association and the right to bear arms,” said Billy Blackburn, a lawyer for Subhanah Wahhaj. He and the other defense attorneys said their clients are innocent of the charges.
The group improvised settlement consisted of a camping trailer sandwiched in the desert and is surrounded by stacked tires for the authorities raided it and found 11 children who suffer from hunger, weapons and ammunition, a shooting range. They also found the remains of the 3-year-old Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, who had suffered from serious medical conditions that caused seizures.
The boy was reported missing in Georgia at the end of 2017 and died on the compound after he was denied medication because Leveille believed oppressed Islamic beliefs, authorities said.
She and the boy’s father, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, had held hours-long prayer, rituals about the boy in the days prior to his death.
The results of an autopsy for the boy are still pending.
Others charged in the case are two sisters and a brother-in-law of Wahhaj.
All, except Wahhaj, are for the account of the kidnapping of his son.
Federal laws generally only allow for charging the parents with kidnapping their own children in international cases.
The authorities have also accused Wahhaj and others of the transport of weapons across the borders, and training of children at a shooting range on the property to carry out shootings and other attacks that never happened.