New Mexico Jihadis Can Leave Jail Until Child Abuse Trial, Judge Rules
A New Mexico state judge ruled Monday that five alleged Muslim extremists accused of training children to conduct school shootings do not have to remain in jail while they await trial for child abuse.
Judge Sarah Backus released the five defendants, Siraj Wahhaj, Hujrah Wahhaj, Subhannah Wahhaj, Jany Leveille, and Lucas Morten, on a $20,000 “signature bond,” according to the Albuquerque Journal. That means that the defendants will not have to pay money unless they violate the conditions of their release. (RELATED: Prosecutors: Son Of Prominent Imam Was Training Children To Commit School Shootings)
Backus said that New Mexico state prosecutors were unable to show that the five defendants should have their bail denied because they posed a threat to the community. Backus said that the defendants will be required to wear GPS tracking devices through the duration of their court case.
“The state alleges there was a big plan afoot but the state has not shown to my satisfaction by clear and convincing evidence what in fact that plan was,” Backus said at Monday’s hearing, according to CNN.
“The state wants me to make a leap and it’s a large leap and that would be to hold people in jail without bond based on — again — troubling facts but I didn’t hear any choate plan that was being alleged by the state.”
All five have been charged with 11 counts of child abuse after 11 malnourished children were found at the group’s compound during an Aug. 3 raid.
The group set up the makeshift compound in Amalia, N.M., just south of the Colorado border.
Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said during a press conference on Aug. 7 that the children were found living in “filthy conditions,” and that Wahhaj and Morton were “extremist[s] of the Muslim belief.”
Wahhaj’s father is a Brooklyn-based imam of the same name. The elder Wahhaj was an un-indicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing case. (RELATED: Media Omits Compound Leader’s Muslim Ties)
The four-year-old son of the younger Siraj Wahhaj was found buried near the compound. Prosecutors say that the boy, Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, died during an exorcism ritual conducted by his father.
Abdul-Ghanni had been reported missing from his home in George in December. Wahhaj has not been charged in his son’s death.
Investigators also found a cache of weapons at the compound. Prosecutors say that Siraj Wahhaj took weapons classes before traveling from Georgia to New Mexico and that he had trained some of the children at the compound how to load and fire semi-automatic rifles.