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Defendants in New Mexico ‘sick end-of-times scheme’ to be sentenced

A U.S. judge is expected to hand down sentences Wednesday for five defendants in a federal terrorism and kidnapping case that stemmed from the search for a toddler who went missing from Georgia in late 2017 that ended months later with a raid on a squalid compound in northern New Mexico.

The sentencing hearing comes months after jurors convicted four of the family members in what prosecutors had called a “sick end-of-times scheme.” Each faces up to life in prison for their convictions.

Defense attorneys have indicated they plan to appeal.


The key defendant — Jany Leveille, a Haitian national — avoided being part of a three-week trial last fall by pleading guilty to conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and being in possession of a firearm while unlawfully in the United States. Under the terms of her plea agreement, she faces up to 17 years in prison.

Prosecutors said during the trial that it was under Leveille’s instruction that the family fled Georgia with the boy, ending up in a remote stretch of the high desert where they conducted firearms and tactical training to prepare for attacks against the government. It was tied to a belief that the boy would be resurrected and then tell them which corrupt government and private institutions needed be eliminated.

Some of Leveille’s writings about the plans were presented as evidence during the trial.

Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, the boy’s father and Leveille’s partner, was convicted of three terrorism-related charges. Wahhaj’s brother-in-law, Lucas Morton, also was convicted of terrorism charges, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, and kidnapping that resulted in the boy’s death. Wahhaj’s two sisters — Hujrah and Subhanah Wahhaj — were convicted only on the kidnapping charges.

In a case that took years to get to trial, jurors heard weeks of testimony from children who had lived with their parents at the compound, other family members, firearms experts, doctors and forensic technicians. The defendants, who are Muslim, argued that federal authorities targeted them because of their religion.

Authorities raided the family’s compound in August 2018, finding 11 hungry children and dismal living conditions without running water. They also found 11 firearms and ammunition that were used at a makeshift shooting range on the property on the outskirts of Amalia near the Colorado state line.

The remains of Wahhaj’s 3-year-old son, Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, were found in an underground tunnel at the compound. Testimony during the trial indicated that the boy died just weeks after arriving in New Mexico and that his body was kept for months with Leveille promising the others that he would be resurrected.

An exact cause of death was never determined amid accusations that the boy, who had frequent seizures, had been deprived of crucial medication.

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