Judge faces backlash after New Mexico Islamic compound jihadis suspects released

Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe testified that they found children holding boxes of ammunition, and that one child was found with a gun….

The children discovered at an “extremist Muslim” compound in New Mexico earlier this month were both trained to use firearms and taught multiple tactical techniques in order to kill teachers, law enforcement and other institution…. state prosecutors said on Monday.

A New Mexico judge agreed on Monday to release five suspects who were arrested on child abuse charges and were alleged to have been training the children to carry out school shootings. The decision to release the suspects on bond came against the wishes of the sheriff’s department and FBI.

The suspects — two men and three women — were arrested last week at a makeshift compound in Amalia, New Mexico, where authorities rescued 11 emaciated children living in filthy conditions with very little food and no clean water, according to police.

Judge Sarah Backus ordered the suspects — Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, 40, Lucas Morton, 40, Jany Leveille, 35, Hujrah Wahhaj, 37, and Subhannah Wahhaj, 35 — released on $20,000 bond each on Monday evening and ordered them to wear ankle monitors until trial, the Taos County Sheriff’s Office announced.

A “no trespassing” sign outside of the location where people camped near Amalia, N.M., Aug. 5, 2018.

Leveille, who is a native of Haiti, was transferred to custody of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on Tuesday, the Taos County Sheriff’s Office said.

Wahhaj is still being held on an outstanding warrant from Georgia stemming from the allegation he kidnapped his 4-year-old son.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the other three defendants remained in jail pending fulfillment of their conditions for release, according to the sheriff’s office.

Jany Leveille sits in court during a hearing, Monday, Aug. 13, 2018, in Taos, N.M. Leveille was among several people arrested after authorities raided a property and found 11 children living on a squalid compound on the outskirts of tiny Amalia, N.M.

District Court Judge Sarah Backus outlined her reasons for granting release to the suspects in a 19-point written order filed on Tuesday.

“The Court is aware that it will receive criticism about this decision,” Backus wrote. “The canons of judicial ethics require that judges not concern themselves with public opinion and base their decisions on the law and the evidence presented in Court. The defendants are innocent until they are proved to be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

“In Court, the burden was on the prosecution to prove its case and it did not do so,” the written order went on to say. “For that reason, the Court has denied the motion for detention without bond.”

The order does outline 12 strict conditions for their release, including weekly contact with their attorneys, adding that the suspects must also cooperate with the New Mexico Children Youth and Families Division (CYFD), where the children are being held in protective custody. They will remain under house arrest, have ankle-monitoring bracelets, may not possess drugs or weapons, and must not visit the compound.

The Taos County sheriff, undersheriff, prosecutors and an FBI agent involved in the case had argued the five adults should not be released, Albuquerque ABC affiliate KOAT reported. The judge, however, said they failed to articulate a “specific threat.”

Police discovered the decrepit compound, located near the Colorado state line, while searching for Wahhaj’s 4-year-old son, Abdul, but he was not there. His mother reported him missing late last year and claimed his father kidnapped him.

Investigators found the malnourished children, ages 1 to 15, barefoot and wearing “rags for clothing,” according to a complaint. Authorities recovered the buried remains of a young boy during a subsequent search of the compound on Aug. 9.

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