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Four Family Members in 2018 NM Compound Case Sentenced to Life

Four family members were sentenced to life in prison in a federal terrorism and kidnapping case that started as an investigation into a 3-year-old boy who went missing from Georgia and was found dead at a New Mexico compound in 2018. Authorities arrested five adults and put 11 children into protective custody in 2018 after the boy's body was discovered in a SWAT raid at a squalid compound in northern New Mexico. The boy, identified as Abdul Ghani, was abducted by his father, Siraj Wahhaj, and other members of his family who believed the boy would be resurrected as Jesus Christ, USA Today reports. Prosecutors accused the family of engaging in firearms and tactical training to prepare for attacks against the government. "The group intended to use the child as a prop in a plan to rid the world of purportedly corrupt institutions, including the FBI, CIA, and U.S. military," the Department of Justice said on Wednesday. Siraj Wahhaj, his sisters, Hujrah Wahhaj and Subhanah Wahhaj, and Subhanah’s husband, Lucas Morton, were sentenced on Wednesday.


The fifth defendant, Jany Leveille, was sentenced to 15 years in prison under a plea agreement. The four family members were led by Leveille, described as a spiritual leader for the group, who prophesied that Abdul was going to resurrect on Easter, April 1, 2018. When the Easter resurrection didn't occur, prosecutors said Leveille claimed that the boy would return around his birthday — Aug. 6, 2018 — or as Subhanah Wahhaj’s soon-to-be-born child. About three days before Abdul's birthday, authorities raided the compound and found 11 children ranging in age from 1 to 15. The children had been living in poor conditions and were discovered in various states of dehydration and emaciation. "All of the children are all of our children, and loss of any child is a loss to us all," U.S. Attorney Alexander M.M. Uballez said. "The horrifying events of 2017 and 2018 played out in graphic detail during this trial: from radical ideologies to violent extremist beliefs, the banality of everyday life centered around the corpse of a dead child within a fortified compound in rural New Mexico."

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