U.S. judge delays New Mexico compound hearings to let defense prepare

US Judge gives defense lawyers time to prepare for detention and preliminary hearings for New Mexico jihadis. Hearing is set for September 12, 2018. The New Mexico state court let these jihadis go. Will the US Court do the same?

A U.S. judge on Wednesday postponed hearings for five suspects from a ramshackle New Mexico compound where a toddler’s body was found in order to give federal attorneys more time to prepare their defense in the racially-charged case. U.S. Magistrate Judge Kirtan Khalsa in Albuquerque, New Mexico delayed the detention and preliminary hearings until Sept. 12. The defendants will remain in custody until then.

The five defendants were appointed federal lawyers after their first appearance in U.S. court on Tuesday on new firearms-related charges brought by the FBI. “We need time to do our own investigation, we need time to get up to speed,” Carey Bhalla, an attorney representing defendant Hujrah Wahhaj, told reporters.

The five suspects, all black Muslims, were first arrested after police said they found 11 children without food or clean water and a cache of firearms at their desert compound in an Aug. 3 raid. Three days later police unearthed the body of a three-year-old at the settlement located near the Colorado state line.

The five had initially faced child abuse charges in state court, but that case unraveled last week as state prosecutors missed a procedural deadline and charges were dismissed, allowing three suspects to be released. The FBI moved in on Friday and arrested all five in Taos, about 95 miles (153 km) north of Albuquerque.

Jany Leveille, a Haitian national described as the spiritual leader of the group, is charged with being in the United States illegally and in unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition. The other defendants Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, 40; Hujrah Wahhaj, 37; Subhanah Wahhaj, 35; and Lucas Morton, 40, are charged with aiding and conspiring with Leveille.

Bhalla said she agreed for “the most part” with comments by state defense lawyers that the five were being discriminated against for being black and Muslim and had acted within their rights of religious freedom and firearm ownership.

In an affidavit, the FBI said a teenage boy among the group told agents Ibn Wahhaj was “trying to put an army together” to conduct “jihad.”

New York Post reports in part: Siraj Ibn Wahhaj — whose dad, Siraj Wahhaj, runs a mosque in Bedford-Syuyvesant and was named an unindicted co-conspirator in 1993 World Trade Center bombing by the FBI — was preparing the 13-year-old and his teen brother to fight against American non-Muslims through techniques including rapid reloads and hand-to-hand combat, he told FBI agents.

It appears that defense attorney Carey Bhalla is prepared to argue that her clients were arrested mostly because they are Muslim and black and that the evidence regarding firearms and training children to commit jihad is inconsequential.

Essentially, it appears the defense attorneys will ask U.S. Magistrate Judge Kirtan Khalsa to make their claim of alleged discrimination and Islamophobia the priority over public safety.

Clearly, the court should give more weight to the risk of harm that the compound group poses to the public safety of innocent people over the alleged harm that the alleged discrimination may cause the perpetrators.

USA v. Leveille et al has been assigned to U.S. Magistrate Judge Jerry H. Ritter. U.S. Magistrate Judge Kirtan Khalsa is presiding over the detention and preliminary hearings scheduled for September 12, 2018.

Florida Family Association has prepared an email for you to send to urge the U.S. Magistrates in this case to make public safety the priority over political correctness.

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