The squalid New Mexico compound that was raided by sheriff's deputies last year served as a terrorist training camp, authorities said for the first time on Thursday.
Months after their initial arrest, five adults who had been living at the compound were charged with seven counts, including supporting terrorism and conspiring against the United States. Jany Leveille, 36; Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, 40; Hujrah Wahhaj, 38; Subhanah Wahhaj, 36; and Lucas Morton, 41, had previously only faced firearms-related charges.
The Taos County Sheriff's Office raided the compound in August 2018, where they found 11 children living in filthy, makeshift rooms without food, water, or power. A 3-year-old boy was later found dead on the property, and adults who had been living there were accused of child abuse.
That case failed to move forward, but the two men and three women were later arrested in connection with possessing guns and ammunition while living in the US illegally. On Thursday, federal prosecutors revealed the scope of their alleged plans to commit attacks inside the US.
"The defendants in this case allegedly were preparing for deadly attacks and their targets included law enforcement and military personnel, the very people who are committed to protecting all of us,” Michael McGarrity, assistant director of counterterrorism at the FBI, said in a statement. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to uncover and put a stop to acts of terrorism.”
According to the indictment, the defendants gathered weapons and supplies at the compound, where they also built a firing range to train for an attack. Leveille and Wahhaj in particular instructed others to prepare to wage jihad and die as martyrs, while killing FBI agents, US military, and other law enforcement, the indictment stated.
Prosecutors have said they were also training the children at the compound to carry out school shootings.
Four of the adults were also accused of kidnapping 3-year-old Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj from his mother's custody in Georgia. The boy had a history of seizures and developmental delays, and prosecutors previously said they believe he was killed in a ritual to cast out demons.
James Langenberg of the FBI's Albuquerque field office acknowledged the lengthy investigation that had led up to Thursday's charges.
“During this lengthy and complex investigation, the safety of the community as well as that of the children at the Amalia compound has been our priority,” he said in a statement. “Cases such as these sometimes take a while, but the FBI will never give up until justice is done.”