Woman Arrested At Muslim ‘Extremist’ Compound Turned Over To Immigration Authorities

Will Racke | Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter

One of the women arrested at a suspected Muslim “extremist” compound in New Mexico has been transferred to the custody of federal immigration authorities, the Taos County Sheriff’s Office said late Tuesday.

Jany Leveille, 35, was arrested along with four other people on Aug. 4 when state and local police raided the makeshift compound in rural Amalia, New Mexico. Authorities discovered two men, three women and 11 children living in squalid conditions and allegedly training for some kind of mass shooting, according to prosecutors.

Immigration authorities detained Leveille on Tuesday, less than 24 hours after Taos District Court Judge Sarah Backus denied a motion to hold her and the other suspects without bail. She is believed to be a Hatian national, while the other four suspects are U.S. citizens. (RELATED: New Mexico Jihadis Can Leave Jail Until Child Abuse Trial, Judge Rules)

Leveille “has been transferred to the custody of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS),” Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said in a statement posted to the agency’s Facebook page. “The Taos County Sheriff’s Office (TCSO) is not able to comment on her status with USCIS other that a warrant was served this morning.”

It was not immediately clear if Hogrefe correctly identified the federal agency that had taken custody of Leveille. USCIS is a component of the Department of Homeland Security that handles visa applications and immigration benefits, but it is not a law enforcement agency and does not serve warrants. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is the DHS agency that locates and detains people suspected of immigration violations.

ICE did not immediately respond to a request for clarification.

On Monday, Backus ordered the five defendants — Leveille, Siraj Wahhaj, Hujrah Wahhaj, Subhannah Wahhaj and Lucas Morten — released on a $20,000 signature bond. The suspects have to wear ankle monitors and have weekly contact with their attorneys.

Prosecutors said all five defendants were giving firearms training to the children at the compound “in furtherance of a conspiracy to commit school shootings.” An FBI agent testified Monday that one of the children told him that other prospective targets would include “the financial system, law enforcement, the education system.”

However, Backus determined prosecutors were unable to show that the five defendants posed a threat to the community and should have their bail denied. (RELATED: Judge In New Mexico Compound Case Accuses Prosecutors Of Anti-Muslim Discrimination)

“The state alleges that there was a big plan afoot,” she said in rendering her decision, according to Reuters. “But the state hasn’t shown to my satisfaction, in clear and convincing evidence, what that plan was.”

Siraj Wahhaj, the son of a prominent Brooklyn imam of the same name, will remain in custody pursuant to a Georgia warrant stemming from allegations that he kidnapped his 4-year-old son, Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, in December.

During a search of the compound on Aug. 9, police discovered the body of a young boy buried in a tunnel on the property. Investigators believe the remains are those of Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, but say it could take weeks to make a positive identification.

Prosecutors allege Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, who suffered from severe medical problems, died during an exorcism ritual conducted by his father.

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