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Officials in compound case cite ‘terrorist attack’ doc

Associated Press

Santa Fe, N.M. – Prosecutors seeking to keep two men and three women jailed on child-abuse charges in northern New Mexico now say they seized a document entitled “Phases of a Terrorist Attack” at the filthy desert compound where 11 children and a dead boy were found.

In a court filing Friday, prosecutors said the hand-written document had instructions for “The one-time terrorist” and mentioned an unnamed place called “the ideal attack site.”

The document was submitted as evidence but not made public. Prosecutors are challenging a judge’s ruling that would release the adults to house arrest with ankle bracelets – although none has been released amid death threats against the judge and concerns for the defendants’ own security.

The newly submitted documents did not make clear whether there was an alleged attack plan and no terrorism-related charges have been filed.

Thomas Clark, the defense attorney for defendant Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, said Monday that he has not received the new information from prosecutors and declined comment.

All five defendants have been pleaded not guilty to child neglect charges in state district court.

Wahhaj and his partner, Jany Leveille, were charged Friday with child abuse resulting in death in connection with the death of Wahhaj’s 3-year-old son Abdul-ghani, whose remains were found inside a tunnel at the compound three days after the initial law enforcement raid this month.

In a warrant outlining the charges, Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe accused the couple of denying proper medical care to the severely disabled boy even as he appeared to go through seizures and heart failure.

Wahhaj and Leveille have yet to make their first court appearance on the new charges or enter pleas. Leveille’s attorney, Kelly Golightley, on Friday that her client maintains her innocence.

Prosecutors quote an extensive account of the child’s death as written in a journal entry that they attribute to Leveille, indicating that Abdul-ghani died in late December 2017 as the exhausted boy’s heartbeat faded in and out during a religious ritual accompanied by a reading of the Quran and aimed at casting out demonic spirits.

The ritual and the boy’s death were described at earlier court hearings by an FBI agent who drew on information from interviews with teenagers who lived at the compound. The descriptions conform with aspects of an alternative, meditative Islamic healing ritual called ruqya.

Prosecutors have alleged that older children were trained to handle firearms to possibly order attacks on government institutions.