New Mexico state judge Sarah Backus on Monday released five Islamic radicals on a $20,000 “signature bond,” which requires no payment. The decision came as a shock, given what local law enforcement had discovered.
At a ramshackle compound near the Colorado state line, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, 39, Lucas Morton, 40, Jany Leveille, 35, Hujrah Wahhaj, 38, and Subhanah Wahhaj, 35, trained 11 children to use firearms and attack schools. The compound had been under surveillance but police only launched a raid when one of the children texted that they were all in need of food and water.
Police found rifles, handguns and ammunition and a shooting range. In a tunnel leading outside the compound they found the remains of a boy later identified as Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj. According to his mother, he took medicine for seizures but the Islamic radicals thought he was possessed by evil spirits. Prosecutor John Lovelace told reporters that the child died during one of the rituals.
As Rod Steiger said in In the Heat of the Night, they had the body, which was dead. Yet prosecutors only charged the five Muslim militants with child abuse. Locals had to wonder, given the connections of the dead boy’s father.
Siraj Ibn Wahhaj is the son of Imam Siraj Wajjai, an unindicted co-conspirator in the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. The Imam, a former CAIR advisor, offered prayer at a Democratic National Convention event in 2012. The elder Wahhaj is also close to Linda Sarsour, who urges Muslims to wage jihad against the Trump administration. For New Mexico officials, activities at the compound were reason enough to suspect the Muslims of training the children for terrorist attacks.
“This was not a camping trip and this was not a simple homesteading,” prosecutor Timothy Hasson told reporters. “The evidence as a whole suggests that this family was on a mission. And it was a violent one, and it was a dangerous one.” Added retired law enforcement officer Bill Rehm, Albuquerque Republican:
“These suspects face serious charges that they intended to inflict mass violence, possibly through school shootings. This, combined with the discovery of the remains of a young child, is strong evidence that they pose a high risk of violence and should be behind bars. People who are suspected of killing children and orchestrating mass shootings should not be allowed to walk out of the courthouse and back into their communities with almost zero guarantee that they will ever show up to trial.” Despite similar pleas from local police, that is exactly what happened.
Judge Sarah Backus is a graduate of the University of California Hastings College of the Law and served as a deputy public defender and deputy attorney general in San Francisco. New Mexico governor Susana Martinez appointed her in 2011 and the next year the Democrat gained election to the judicial post.
Backus cited “troubling facts about numerous children in far from ideal circumstances and individuals who are living in a very unconventional way,” but ruled that prosecutors had failed to show evidence of a plan to harm the community. Gov. Martinez, a Republican, said the decision “highlights how extreme the New Mexico Supreme Court has been in dictating pretrial release for all kinds of dangerous criminals.”
In similar style, Backus recently supported a motion to release Rafael Orozco, who attacked his girlfriend, her newborn baby and a hospital worker before fleeing to commit other crimes. Those baffled by the Democrat’s decision to release the five Muslims might contrast two other cases.
For deciding to live in rural Idaho, Randy Weaver was branded a “white separatist.” Weaver’s wife Vicky had committed no crime and was not under arrest but in 1992 FBI sniper Lon Horiuchi shot the woman through the head as she held her infant child. Democrats such as Herb Kohl and Patrick Leahy showed sympathy with the family but Sen. Dianne Feinstein asked Weaver if he had made kids wear Nazi armbands and shout Nazi slogans.
In 1993, Clinton Attorney General Janet Reno approved the deployment of military tanks in an attack on a compound at Waco, Texas, claiming the lives of 75 people, including 25 children. In neither case was anybody starving children, killing children in rituals, or training children to use firearms in attacks on schools. None of the adults held ties to terrorist supporters in the manner of Siraj Ibn Wahhaj.
Instead of mounting a raid on the compound, the FBI sent in a neighbor with a hidden camera. Police found guns, ammunition, and the dead body of Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, yet the adults were only charged with child abuse. If anybody thought that a travesty of justice it would be hard to blame them.
Meanwhile, as Fox News reports, on Tuesday Jany Leveille was transferred to the custody of ICE. Siraj Wahhaj is being held on a warrant from Georgia and the three other Muslims are “still incarcerated pending the fulfillment of their release conditions.”