National Security

Three Suspects Connected With New Mexico ‘Extremist Muslim’ Compound Released After Judge Drops Charges

Image from the compound in Amalia, New Mexico / Taos County Sheriff's Office

A district judge dismissed charges against three of five defendants connected to a New Mexico compound where, according to court documents, officials say Muslim extremists trained children to carry out school shootings. District Judge Emilio Chavez ruled authorities violated New Mexico’s "10-day rule," a 10-day limit for a hearing to establish probable cause.

Chavez dropped child abuse charges against Lucas Morton, Subhannah Wahhaj, and Hujrah Wahhaj, and a separate judge dropped similar charges against Siraj Ibn Wahhaj and Jany Leveille. Charges against Siraj Ibn Wahhaj and Leveille in connection with the death of a previously missing three-year-old boy remain, Fox News reports.

The suspects were arrested earlier this month during a raid of a New Mexico compound following an investigation into the disappearance of Abdul-ghani Wahhaj, a three-year-old who had been missing since December. Law enforcement officials found 11 children at the compound, ranging in age from one to 15, as well as the remains of a child.

The remains were later identified as belonging to the three-year-old Wahhaj. The boy suffered from brain problems associated with hypoxic Ischemic encephalopathy, a condition characterized by acute or subacute brain injury resulting from a lack of oxygen to the brain.

Siraj Ibn Wahhaj had been wanted by Georgia officials since December after he took his son in order to perform an "exorcism," according to the boy’s mother, Hakima Ramzi. Prosecutors claim Wahhaj and his partner, Leveille, denied the boy medicine and health care, saying he died during exorcist rituals.

Officials allege Wahhaj also trained children to commit school shootings, teaching them how to use firearms and tactics for killing teachers and police. Law enforcement seized a document from the compound called "Phases of a Terrorist Attack," which included ambiguous instructions for "the one-time terrorist" and "the ideal attack site." Prosecutors say interviews with children found at the compound revealed several of those arrested talked about dying in jihad.

Prosecutors could still try to charge Morton, Subhannah, and Hujrah via a grand jury indictment, but it is unclear if they will pursue that option.