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Judge Allows Release of New Mexico Terror Suspects

Siraj Ibn Wahhaj sits next to his public defense attorney in court.

A judge on Monday denied a motion by state prosecutors to detain five suspected Muslim extremists arrested after a raid at a northern New Mexico compound earlier this month, clearing them to be released, pending trial.

Prosecutors presented several hours of testimony and evidence in court, but Judge Sarah Backus, an elected Democrat, said, "The state failed to meet the burden of showing the suspects were a danger to the community," according to KOB 4.

Siraj Wahhaj, Hujrah Wahhaj, Lucas Morton, Jany Leveille, and Subhannah Wahhaj each face 11 counts of child abuse after eleven hungry and malnourished children ages 1 to 15 were found living in the "filthy" compound in Amalia, New Mexico, near the Colorado border. The children have since been placed in the protective custody of state welfare workers with the Children, Youth and Families Department.

Siraj Wahhaj, 39, who was allegedly training children to commit school shootings, is the son of notorious Brooklyn imam Siraj Wahhaj Sr., an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. He is also facing child abduction charges in Georgia after allegedly kidnapping his then-three-year-old son and performing an “exorcism” on him.

State prosecutors also presented evidence suggesting that the suspects may have been planning some sort of attack.

They said that Siraj Wahhaj took several weapons classes before coming to New Mexico, and that police found books at the compound about how to build firearms at home. Authorities said that during the raid on August 3, they found an AR-15, five 30-round loaded magazines, and four loaded pistols. They also indicated that there was a shooting range at the site. Wahhaj was reportedly teaching the children how to load and fire assault rifles.

According to prosecutors, Wahhaj sent a letter to his brother, allegedly inviting him to come to the compound and die as a martyr.

An FBI agent described Wahhaj's cruel and bizarre treatment of his son.

FBI agent Travis Taylor testified saying that, according to interviews conducted between the FBI and two teens from the compound, Siraj Wahhaj would lead rituals that included reading from the Quran and centered on his son, who authorities said suffered from seizures.

"During these rituals, per witness statements, the victim, Abdul (Ghani Wahhaj) would begin to choke and have white foam or slime come from his mouth and then pass out," Taylor said.

According to Taylor, the children were led to believe that the child, Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, "would become Jesus" when his demons were exorcised. He added that once the child "became Jesus," he would instruct the others of the property or the family what corrupt institutions to get rid of."

A body believed to be a child was found on the property in the days following the raid, but the Office of the Medical Investigator has yet to definitely identify it. Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj was not among the 11 children immediately found at the compound.