Feds Take Custody of New Mexico Muslim Cult Leader After Judge Orders Release on Bond

This photo provided by the Taos County Sheriff's Department shows Jany Leveille. Leveille and a few other women, believed to be the mothers of 11 children found hungry and living in a filthy makeshift compound in rural northern New Mexico, have been arrested, following the weekend arrests of two men, …
Taos County Sheriff via AP

Jany Leveille, wife of Siraj Wahhaj and evidently the spiritual leader of his cult, was taken into custody by federal authorities on Tuesday just hours after a New Mexico judge controversially ordered all five members of the Muslim extremist group released on bond despite allegations of kidnapping, child abuse, and very likely killing a sick three-year-old child by withholding his medication.

Leveille, Wahhaj, and three other adults were arrested on August 4 during a raid on their compound in New Mexico, a police action prompted by a message from within the compound pleading for help because the 11 children held there were starving. Children rescued from the compound said they were being trained to conduct gun massacres at schools.

They also said Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, the kidnapped three-year-old son of Siraj Wahhaj, died at the compound during a Muslim “prayer ritual” that has been compared to an exorcism, and his remains are those recovered from tunnels dug beneath the site.

Testimony and documents introduced by prosecutors indicated that Leveille believed Abdul-Ghani was a militant reincarnation of Jesus, reborn as prophesied in the Koran, who would eventually provide the cult with a list of targets to attack in righteous fury, including schools.

Judge Sarah Backus ordered the suspects released on $20,000 bond Tuesday, provided they promised to wear ankle monitors and attend future court hearings. Backus said she found the facts of the case “troubling” but ruled the extremists were not an imminent danger to the community.

Fox News reported on Tuesday night that Leveille has been taken into custody by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Siraj Wahhaj has been held on the outstanding warrant from Georgia against him for kidnapping Abdul-Ghani, while the other three defendants remain in custody awaiting their court-ordered release.

Leveille, 35, turns out to be a native of Haiti with “unclear” immigration status. The Associated Press quoted her lawyer saying that she has been removed from the Taos County, New Mexico, detention facility and “appears to be in federal custody.”

Leveille is identified in the AP report as the mother of six of the children rescued from the compound. Prosecutors said she also believes herself to be the mother of Abdul-Ghani, who was abducted from the custody of Siraj Wahhaj’s first wife, Georgia resident Hakima Ramzi. Court testimony said Leveille saw herself as Wahhaj’s “Muslim wife” while he was legally married to Ramzi. She reportedly believes Ramzi stole Abdul-Ghani from her womb using “black magic.”

According to a member of the Wahhaj family, Leveille wrote to Siraj Wahhaj’s brother Muhammad in December and asked for money and guns to sustain the group.

“Take all your money out the bank and bring your guns,” Leveille allegedly demanded in the letter. “Allah says He will protect you always, so follow until He makes you die as a martyr as you wanted and the only way is by joining the righteous.”

She also admonished the brother not to inform his father, prominent New York City imam Siraj Wahhaj, because doing so would “put us in danger.” The elder Siraj Wahhaj has said he was unaware of the group’s activities.

The Associated Press also reported on Tuesday that Judge Backus received “threats of violence” after ordering the defendants released on bond and has “come under attack through social media, emails, and telephone calls.”

“One telephone caller threatened to slit the judge’s throat, while others made derogatory insults,” the report stated.

Governor Susana Martinez of New Mexico criticized Judge Backus’s decision to allow the release of the defendants on Tuesday and also said the standard of proof for holding suspects without bond in her state is too high. State GOP Chairman Ryan Cangiolosi called the judge’s decision “absurd.”


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