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  • Jim Leach

EXORCISM IN NEW MEXICO

The Amalia Compound raid in Taos county New Mexico was initiated on August 3rd when one of the women in the compound frantically sent out a message asking for help because the people in Amalia Compound were starving. The Sheriff said the compound had been under surveillance since May but lacked enough evidence to search the property. The FBI was watching the compound from the air using drones. The landowners gave the Sheriff permission to search the property but since the residents were the ones who had an expectation of privacy, without consent from the occupants, law enforcement was concerned that if they moved too quickly any evidence obtained as the result of the raid (search) might be inadmissible in court.


Conditions discovered at the Camp by the Taos County Sheriff's Department

As a result of the raid, 11 children were placed in protective custody, 3 women and 2 men were arrested. One of the men arrested was Siraj IbnWahhaj and he was the father of Abdul Ghani Wahhaj. Two of the women were Siraj Ibn's sisters, the third woman was Jany Leveille from Haiti who was described as Siraj Ibn's “Muslim wife” and she was identified by the teenagers as the "leader" of the group. The other man arrested was Wahhaj's brother in law, Lucas Morten. The adults were charged with child abuse. Accounts from those familiar with the situation described the inhabitants as "near starvation" and "living like they were in a third world country". When asked who owned the land one of the men replied, "The Lord gave it to us." During the initial raid on the compound police found weapons, extra magazines for the firearms and a bullet resistant vest. The suspects had built a firing range on the property.


Three year old Abdul-Ghani-Wahhaj was reported missing from his home in Georgia months before the raid and his body has been identified from the remains discovered in a tunnel at the compound. The child's mother Halima Ramzi said her son, Abdul Ghani and his father, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, left to go to a park and never returned. Wahhaj stalled his wife by saying he just wanted his son to spend the night with him. At the time Ramzi and Siraj were married but she filed for divorce in December. A juvenile court judge issued a warrant for Wahhaj for failing to let Ramzi know where the child was located. 


The young child suffered from hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy causing him to have seizures. The disease required constant medical care and treatment. Prosecutors say Wahhaj and his accomplices believed they were going to heal the child by practicing certain religious ceremonies. According to state and federal court documents, Wahhaj returned from a trip to Saudi Arabia in October in 2017 and announced that medical treatments for his son were to be stopped and that he (Wahhaj) would perform certain rituals to “cast demonic spirits” out of the child’s body. The "treatments" began in Georgia but Leveille said she had been commanded by the angel Gabriel to take the child to New Mexico in order to continue their mission. Janey contacted another one of Siraj’s brothers and asked him to join the group in New Mexico and become a martyr.


The children say the rituals lasted for several days and during the ceremonies Wahhaj would recite verses from the Quran and keep his hand on his son’s forehead while the father was praying. The children say the sick child was foaming at the mouth while his father was performing one of the attempted exorcisms. The child subsequently lost consciousness and died.


The adults preached that young Wahhaj would come back to life four months after his death. They said the child would be resurrected as Jesus and direct the rest of the group as to which institutions or targets they should attempt to destroy. Prosecutors say it is likely schools, law enforcement, and financial institutions would have been some of their targets. One of the teenagers is quoted as saying the children at the compound were told by their adult captors that any of the children who did not say they “believe the message” would be killed or kept hostage until they came around to supporting the cause.


Defense attorneys contended that if the defendants were white Christians instead of black Muslims, their actions would have been accepted as normal behavior. They said shooting guns on private property or believing in faith healing would not have been a problem! Evidently the questions of starving children and making a 3 year old child choke to death, possibly on his own vomit, were not addressed.


Local Judge Sarah Backus said the prosecution had not shown (to the judge’s satisfaction) that the defendants were a threat or exactly what their plan was. The judge allowed the defendants to have unsecured bonds but for a while, all defendants remained in jail. The state of Georgia eventually declined to issue a fugitive warrant for Siraj Wahhaj. Apparently officials in Georgia saw no need to issue a fugitive warrant since the charges in New Mexico would supersede the Georgia warrants.

In an interview with reporters, Jany Leveille’s brother, Von Chelet Leveille, who still lives in Haiti, also says Siraj Wahhaj visited a faith healer in London to try and discover new remedies for his son’s illness. Leveille is quoted as saying his sister told him the child died while his father was performing a meditative Islamic healing ritual called ruqya. Von Chelet claims he learned of the boy’s death last winter. He was having daily conversations with his sister in New Mexico using “WhatsApp”. He was told the child’s dead body was stored in a tunnel, washed frequently and showed little signs of decomposure for quite some time. Von Chelet Leveille said the group trained with firearms as a self defense measure because the adult members feared public outrage when the child was resurrected as a black, Muslim child who was declared to be Jesus Christ.


State charges were dropped against the defendants because of the "10 day rule" which is a rule that requires the prosecution to give the arrested person a hearing within 10 days of their arraignment. This hearing places the burden of proof on government to show there is enough evidence against the suspect to proceed with prosecution. It is many time referred to as a "preliminary hearing". The procedure helps to ensure the arrested person receives a reasonably speedy trial as guaranteed in the law. In many situations the case is carried straight to the Grand Jury and an indictment is sought against the suspect. If the Grand Jury issues an indictment, it may circumvent the necessity for a preliminary heating unless the defendant requests one. On September 7th indictments were issued against Siraj and Janey in state court. The couple is charged with “Abuse of a Child Resulting in Death”. If convicted they could be sentenced to life in prison.


It appears the prosecution in this case may rely on testimony from children. Perhaps the state did not want to have a preliminary hearing because of the stress testifying in court would place on children who had already had to live through a tremendously traumatic experience. If the case goes to trial (it probably won’t), the state will attempt to corroborate any testimony a child may give with other, independent evidence or officer testimony. Defense attorneys must be cautious with aggressive cross examination attacking a child witness because those types of tactics could be perceived as “bullying” and alienate jurors. In the end, the credibility of the person testifying is what matters, not their age.

Federal authorities indicted Leveille on charges she illegally possessed weapons and ammunition and the rest of the group were arrested for aiding and abetting her crimes and also conspiracy. Federal court documents quote one of the teens as saying Siraj wanted to "get an army together" and prepare the 11 children for jihad. The children's training included "firearms, military techniques, rapid reloads and hand-to-hand combat". Extremist training literature was also discovered at the compound. Leveille told them "jihad" meant they were supposed to kill those who did not believe in Allah.

Leveille has been living in the U.S. illegally for 20 years arriving here in 1998 on a temporary visa. Reports say she wanted to marry Siraj Ibn so that she could become a United States citizen. Allegedly Leveille became pregnant but lost the child. She said the father of the child was Wahhaj and Leveille claimed she lost the child because of a voodoo curse cast by Wahhaj’s wife. Leveille applied for permanent citizen status in May of 2017, but was turned down. If convicted on any of the charges, she will serve any prison sentence she receives first and then be deported back to Haiti.


Siraj Ibn's father, Siraj Wahhaj, was an unindicted co-conspirator in the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City in 1993. In the ensuing criminal trial the senior Wahhaj testified as a character witness for Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind sheik who was convicted of plotting the World Trade Center terror attacks. Siraj Wahhaj currently serves as an imam at a mosque in New York City. The imam says he helped to lead the authorities to the compound.


Jim Leach is the author of The Leach Report, which can be found at “leachtraining.com” as well as “You Can Tell ME, a simple guide to effective interviewing” which is available on Amazon.com in both paperback and Kindle editions.

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