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Feds say Atlanta family plotted terrorism while at New Mexico desert compound

ATLANTA -- A federal grand jury on Wednesday indicted five relatives from Atlanta, charging them with plotting terrorism after kidnapping a toddler and retreating to an isolated desert compound in New Mexico.

The defendants, whose site was raided last summer, have long been accused by authorities of planning terrorism, but the indictment is first time they've been formally charged with such allegations. The Clayton County boy, Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, was found dead at the compound on what would have been his 4th birthday. Previously, the relatives, who had lived around Clayton, DeKalb and Fulton counties, were held in federal custody only on firearm charges. The new indictment doesn't specify the group's plans, but says they intended to kill members of the FBI and the U.S. military.

Authorities have said they believe the boy may have died because, rather than given him seizure medicine, his father, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, performed rituals to rid him of evil spirits. Because of trouble getting oxygen during birth, Abdul-Ghani had many medical problems, including seizures as well as cognitive and developmental delays.

According to Abdul-Ghani's mother, Wahhaj had said he was taking the boy to a Clayton County park one day in late 2017 and never returned. Instead, the child was found dead in a cave in the desert on Aug. 6, 2018.Wahhaj was arrested at the compound with his wife Jany Leveille, his sisters Hujrah Wahhaj and Subhanah Wahhaj, as well as Subhannah Wahhaj's husband, Lucas Morton. Their 11 children were taken into custody from the property by New Mexico child welfare workers.

--The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


Man accused of dropping daughter off bridge appears in court before upcoming murder trial

LARGO, Fla. -- John Jonchuck appeared in a Pinellas County, Fla., courtroom on Thursday days before his upcoming murder trial.

Jonchuck, now 29, faces charges of first-degree murder, assault and fleeing police. He's accused of dropping his 5-year-old daughter, Phoebe Jonchuck, from a bridge near the Skyway on Jan. 8, 2015. She drowned in Tampa Bay.

Thursday's court hearing was to discuss two defense motions. The first motion is to prevent the term "psychopath" from making it into the trial, because it has the "strong likelihood to unduly prejudice the jury" against Jonchuck, his lawyers wrote. The second motion is to prevent testimony related to hypothermia as a contributing cause of Phoebe's death.


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