Three of the five suspects from the New Mexico Islamist cult compound were released after being absolved of child abuse charges due to a legal technicality.
Read and watch more (see video below) as New Mexico suspects released:
This means three Islamist extremists with a known desire to die as “martyrs” are free. Authorities in New Mexico are publicly pointing fingers and expressing their astonishment. The display reflects the intense frustration since the compound was raided in early August, as law enforcement authorities are normally quiet, diplomatic and strenuously avoid public in-fighting.
Judge Emilio Chavez dropped the child abuse charges against Lucas “Luqman” Morton, Hujrah Wahhaj and Subhanna Wahhaj because the prosecutors failed to schedule and hold a preliminary hearing to establish probable cause within 10 days after they were taken into custody. The judge noted it had been 22 days.
The public defender for Morton commented that the failure to meet the deadline is “absolutely bizarre.”
The prosecutors said they thought the defendants would be released from jail due to the previous judge’s granting of a “signature bond” allowing them to be free on house arrest. If they had been released, the deadline would have been extended to 60 days.
The district attorney plans to refile the charges.
It is publicly confirmed that those three are now free. Morton and Subhanna Wahhaj are required to remain in Taos County but Hujrah is not. As Clarion reported, it appears that Hujrah was a big fan of senior Al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in 2011.
The initial child abuse charges against Siraj Wahhaj, Jr., the father of the disabled three-year old boy who was abducted and died in December after being denied his prescribed medication, and Jany “Maryam” Leveille, the female leader of the compound, were also dropped due to the missed filing deadline.
Leveille and Wahhaj Jr. will remain in custody until at least Tuesday, September 7 when there will be a hearing as the two also face additional charges. Leveille is from Haiti and was charged with immigration violations, and Wahhaj Jr. was hiding in New Mexico as a fugitive after fleeing Georgia.
It is not known where the three released extremists are residing besides the fact that two of them are required to stay in Taos County, New Mexico in suitable living conditions. The compound in which they lived was destroyed by the authorities.
A Sunni Muslim convert named Michael Weinman said he is trying to find lodging for them. He complained that a motel was booked for Morton, but they cancelled his reservation. It is unclear how Weinman knows Morton, and why he feels compelled to help them find a place to stay so they can be let out of jail.
Weinman also said churches are being asked to help host them because, “I think helping prisoners is an obligation of all religions.”
Weinman also goes by the name Abd al-Hayy and is a fellow at the Salam Institute for Peace and Justice. He oversees a research project that involves the Islamic Center of New Mexico, the Salam Institute in Washington D.C., the University of New Mexico and other groups including the Muslim Students Association.
There is no publicly-available information linking Weinman to the compound or jihadist activity beyond this peculiar assistance to Morton.
The district judge blasted the Taos district attorney for the “complete failure to follow procedures in prosecuting the case … It’s disturbing to me that the District Attorney’s Office would put the court in this position.”
The Taos County Sheriff’s Office responded in a furious public Facebook post:
“Unbelievable events have happened yet again today … I cannot answer for the prosecution, but I will defend that TCSO stepped up and put the search warrants and charges together lawfully and correctly without waiting on another agency any longer.”
As for the issue of the expired deadline for a preliminary hearing, the sheriff’s office said:
“I won’t answer for the prosecutors but I will say this – when I asked on 8-17-18 (on day 7) I was told they didn’t have to do the preliminary hearing in 10 days because of the release conditions having been set on Aug. 8th – obviously they were wrong.”
The sheriff’s office also urged everyone to stop blaming each other — including another judge, Sarah Backus, who made the widely-ridiculed decision to grant a “signature bond” to the extremists.
The posting by the sheriff’s office expressed their hope that the prosecuting attorneys will file new charges against the three released extremists within 24 hours. As more evidence is gathered during the investigation, more charges can be filed to ensure the extremists are held without bond.
As previously mentioned, the district attorney said he plans to refile the charges that were dropped. It is also possible the prosecutors will seek a grand jury indictment.
These developments come after prosecutors revealed that the group sought to target a hospital in Atlanta because Leveille was unsatisfied with medical treatment she received there.
They also said they found a handwritten document titled “Phases of a Terrorist Attack” with unspecified plans for “the one-time terrorist” to strike “the ideal attack site.”
A letter to Siraj Wahhaj, Jr.’s brother, Mohammed, which was found encouraged him to come to the compound to die in violent jihad. The letter also mentioned Mohammed previously expressed a desire to die as a “martyr.”
All the adults who were initially arrested at the compound are either children of radical preacher Siraj Wahhaj, Sr. or married into his family. If you include the family member addressed in the letter, that means six family members of Wahhaj, Sr. were interested in dying in violent jihad.
Although the New Mexico situation most likely resulted from his Wahhaj, Sr.’s radical activity and philosophy, the cult is ideologically at odds with the imam’s preaching, and there is no evidence that he was directly involved in the compound operation.
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