New Mexico Compound Detainee Handed to Immigration Services

August 15, 2018 Updated: October 5, 2018

One of the adults arrested for child abuse at a makeshift compound in the desert in New Mexico has been transferred to the custody of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency responsible for adjudicating immigration cases.

The transfer of 35-year-old Jany Leveille, also called Maryam Leveille, was announced on Aug. 14 by the Taos County Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff, Jerry Hogrefe, was “not able to comment on her status with USCIS other [than] that a warrant was served this morning,” he said in a Facebook post.

Leveille comes from Haiti and is one of five charged for keeping their 11 children (age 1 to 15) starving in deplorable conditions at the compound.

Prosecutors said the children received weapons training to conduct terror attacks, including school shootings, based on what some of the older children told the FBI.

Leveille’s husband, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, 40, is among the five and also faces an allegation of abducting his severely disabled 3-year-old son in December from the boy’s mother. Prosecutors say the boy died at the compound during a ritual the defense likened to faith healing.

Remains of a child were found at the compound. Relatives believe the remains belong to the boy, though a medical examiner hasn’t yet officially identified the body.

‘Main Culprit’

All the defendants and the children are relatives of 68-year-old prominent Brooklyn imam Siraj Wahhaj. Ibn Wahhaj is his son; Hujrah, 38, and Subhanah, 35, are his daughters; Luqman Morton is his son-in-law; and Leveille is his daughter-in-law.

Leveille used to work at the imam’s mosque, Masjid Al-Taqwa, as a secretary, according to a 2010 Patch article.

She was the mastermind behind the group’s move to the desert, according to Tariq Abdur Rashid, whose daughter is married to Ibn Wahhaj’s brother, Muhammad.

He said Leveille convinced the group that she was a “messiah” and “set herself up as the interpreter of God’s word.” He also believed her legal presence in the United States had expired.

On Dec. 31, Morton delivered a letter to Muhammad that prosecutors believe was written by Leveille or Ibn Wahhaj.

Siraj Wahhaj, left, and Lucas Morten, right, face child abuse charges. (Taos County Sheriff's Office)
Siraj Ibn Wahhaj (L) and Lucas Morten. (Taos County Sheriff’s Office)

“Take all your money out of the bank and bring your guns,” the letter stated. “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 (us).”

Muhammad didn’t join the group.

A person familiar with Leveille believed she authored the letter. The person wished not to be named so as to not antagonize the people involved.

“She is the main culprit behind this whole situation,” the person said. “Everything they did they did it because she was telling them to do it because they really believed she was getting revelations from God.”

State judge Sarah Backus allowed the defendants to be released on $20,000 bail on Aug. 13. The sheriff said, however, that the detainees remain in custody.

“Siraj Wahhaj … is being held on an outstanding warrant from Georgia. The others remain incarcerated pending fulfillment of their conditions of release,” Hogrefe said.

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