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Defendants in US terrorism and kidnapping case scheduled for sentencing in New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A US judge is expected to hand down sentences Wednesday for five defendants in a federal terrorism and kidnapping case that emerged from the search for a toddler who went missing in Georgia in late 2017 and ended months later with a raid on a squalid complex in northern New York. Mexico.

The sentencing hearing comes months after jurors convicted four of the family members in what prosecutors called a “sick end-of-days scheme.” All face up to life in prison for their convictions.

Defense lawyers have indicated they will appeal.

The main defendant – Jany Leveille, a Haitian national – avoided being part of a three-week trial last fall by pleading guilty to conspiring to provide material support to terrorists and being in possession of a firearm while on unlawfully found in the United States. Under the terms of her plea, she faces up to 17 years in prison.

Prosecutors said during the trial that the family led by Leveille fled Georgia with the boy and ended up in a remote part of the high desert, where they conducted firearms and tactical training in preparation for attacks on the government. It was connected to the belief that the boy would be brought back to life and then tell them which corrupt government and private institutions needed to be eliminated.

Some of Leveille’s writings about the plans were presented as evidence at the trial.

Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, the boy’s father and Leveille’s partner, was convicted of three terrorism-related charges. Wahhaj’s brother-in-law, Lucas Morton, was also convicted on charges of terrorism, conspiracy to commit kidnapping and kidnapping resulting in the boy’s death. Wahhaj’s two sisters – Hujrah and Subhanah Wahhaj – were convicted only on kidnapping charges.

In a case that took years to go to trial, jurors heard weeks of testimony from children who had lived with their parents at the compound, other family members, firearms experts, doctors and forensic technicians. The defendants, who are Muslim, argued that federal authorities targeted them because of their religion.

Authorities raided the family’s estate in August 2018, finding 11 hungry children and dire living conditions without running water. They also found 11 firearms and ammunition used at a makeshift shooting range on the property on the outskirts of Amalia, near the Colorado state line.

The remains of Wahhaj’s 3-year-old son, Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, were found in an underground tunnel in the compound. Testimony at the trial revealed that the boy died just weeks after arriving in New Mexico and that his body was preserved for months, with Leveille promising the others that he would be resurrected.

An exact cause of death was never determined, amid allegations that the boy, who suffered frequent seizures, had not been given crucial medication.