A state judge in New Mexico made a surprising ruling in the case of five Muslim extremists.
After claims of racism and Islamophobia, Judge Sarah Backus decided to deny state prosecutors’ request to detain the five defendants until their trial, where they will be tried on charges of child abuse, The Albuquerque Journal reported Monday.
Horrifying details in investigation of devout Muslim compound conducting school-shooting training, defendants still freed on bail: Judge Sarah Backus said although she was concerned by “troubling facts,” prosecutors failed to articulate any specific… https://t.co/bHs8H5AnVp pic.twitter.com/cpsy47H21l
— Pamela Geller (@PamelaGeller) August 14, 2018
The decision came after defense attorneys claimed that racism and Islamophobia were behind charges against the defendants, who are all black.
“If these were white people of the Christian faith who owned guns, this wouldn’t be as big of a deal,” said defense attorney Tom Clark.
State prosecutors argued for detainment on the grounds that at least one of the defendants were training the children to use guns in carrying out attacks on schools, teachers, law enforcement, and other institutions.
— Fox News (@FoxNews) August 9, 2018
However, Judge Backus said the claims did not prove the defendants were a danger to the public, even after she voiced concern over “troubling facts” including the recovery of a child’s body at the compound.
“The state alleges there was a big plan afoot but the state has not shown to my satisfaction by clear and convincing evidence what in fact that plan was,” Backus said, according to CNN.
Backus released the defendants on a signature bond of $20,000 each, meaning they can bail out without payment, and money is only due if they violate the bond terms.
Backus is said to have a history of granting low bond amounts to violent offenders, according to Fox News.
The five defendants are identified as Siraj Wahhaj, his sisters Hujrah Wahhaj and Subhannah Wahhaj, spouse Jany Leveille, and brother-in-law Lucas Morten.
They are accused of holding 11 children on a New Mexico compound and training them on carrying out school shootings. The children were found malnourished and living in “filthy conditions.”
Police investigated the compound after officials received a stress call from defendant Subhanah Wahhaj, who requested help, food, and water for the starving group. The compound was already under FBI surveillance, but the distress call led to a raid on the compound on Aug. 3.
Investigators discovered the body of a child on Aug. 6 while searching a tunnel on the compound. The identity of the child has not yet been confirmed, but a family member claims the body belongs to his 3-year-old grandson, Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, son of Siraj Wahhaj.
Siraj Wahhaj is accused of traveling to Jonesboro, Georgia where he abducted Abdul-Ghani from his mother’s home. After a car accident a few weeks later, Siraj told police that the family was on their way to New Mexico on a camping trip, but no camping equipment was seen in the vehicle.
State prosecutor Timothy Hasson said: “This was not a camping trip and this was not a simple homesteading, the kind that many people do in New Mexico. The evidence as a whole suggests that this family was on a mission. And it was a violent one, and it was a dangerous one.”