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15 Aug, 2018 16:13

Judge who bailed New Mexico desert camp suspects receives threats to have ‘throat slit’

Judge who bailed New Mexico desert camp suspects receives threats to have ‘throat slit’

A New Mexico judge has received death threats amid outrage over her decision to grant bail to four adult suspects held in connection to a ramshackle camp, where arms, 11 starving children, and the remains of a child were found.

The threats were made against Judge Sarah Backus after she granted bail of $20,000 to four adults pending their trial in a child abuse case. A fifth suspect arrested as part of the same case was not eligible for bail due to an outstanding kidnapping charge in the state of Georgia. All five are also accused of giving terror training to children.

The group of two men and three women were arrested following a police raid at a remote makeshift camp in the New Mexico desert in search of a missing three-year-old boy, Abdul Ghani Wahhaj. At the compound, officers found 11 starving children, stockpiles of firearms, and the remains of the missing Abdul.

The boy’s father, Siraj ibn Wahhaj, was arrested at the scene along with his wife, Jany Leveille, 35, two sisters, Hujrah, 38, and Subhannah, 35, as well as another male, identified as Lucas Morten, 40.

However, public outcry caused by the ruling saw an influx of threats aimed at Backus at Taos District Court on Tuesday via phone, email, and social media, causing the district courthouse to be temporarily evacuated.

One caller said that “he wished her throat were slit,” with another saying he “hoped someone would come and smash her head in,” according to a New Mexico courts spokesperson.

An email to Backus called her an “Islamic terror sympathizer.”

As a result of the threats, court officials have reiterated that Backus’ duty was to make a decision based on the law, not according to public opinion based on incomplete information.

READ MORE: From ‘high-strung’ to ‘school-shooting training’: New Mexico captors come from prominent imam family

During the hearing, prosecutors argued that Abdul had died during an Islamic ceremony known as a ruqya, which aims to chase away demonic spirits. They also claimed that the children were trained to use weapons and to defend the compound in the event of an FBI raid.

The accused’s defense team, meanwhile, claimed that the prosecution were treating the suspects unfairly because they are Muslim, arguing that if they were white Christians, “nobody would bat an eye over the idea of faith healing.”

They also argued that, despite the vast amount of firearms and ammunition found at the compound, the group’s members were exercising their constitutional right to possess firearms.

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