National Security

Dhillon Blasts New Mexico Jihadi Compound Judge’s ‘Crazy’ Ruling

Attorney says releasing five suspects 'is an outrage' and represents 'a repeat pattern' by San Francisco Democrat Sarah Backus

“Anybody watching this knows” that New Mexico Judge Sarah Backus’ “crazy” decision Monday to grant “minimal” bail for five suspects accused of abusing and training 11 children for terrorist attacks on schools is “nonsense,” attorney Harmeet Dhillon said Thursday on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle.”

“Yes, thank God one of these people is in ICE [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] custody, and one of them is going to be handed over to Georgia on child kidnapping charges. But if it were up to this judge — she granted very minimal conditions to all five of [the suspects],” said Dhillon.

“That is an outrage and that is a repeat pattern by this judge, a Democrat who came from San Francisco — my hometown, unfortunately — that’s where she learned these practices,” said Dhillon, founder of the Dhillon Law Group Inc. and Republican National Committeewoman for California.

Dhillon said Backus has a history of controversial rulings of setting low bails for violent offenders.

A three-year-old child died in the New Mexico compound (pictured at the top of this article), in which the children lived in squalid conditions where they were being taught to use weapons, conduct school shootings, and kill law enforcement officials, prosecutors said.

Taos County Prosecutor John Lovelace claimed Monday during a court hearing that Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, the dead three-year-old child whose father is one of the five suspects, perished during an Islamic “ritual intended to cast out demonic spirits.”

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Related: Woman Arrested at New Mexico Jihadi Compound Was in U.S. Illegally (Stunning Details)

Although Backus said the facts she heard “about numerous children in far from ideal circumstances and individuals who are living in a very unconventional way” were “troubling,” she set the $20,000 bail, ordered the suspects to wear ankle monitors, check in weekly with their lawyers, and avoid alcohol and handling firearms.

“You have a dead child. You have numerous weapons. You have hundreds of feet of tunnel under this compound. And you have somebody who’s being held on a kidnapping charge in another jurisdiction,” Dhillon said. “So if this isn’t clear and convincing evidence that A) there is a flight risk and B) there is a potential danger to the community, I don’t know what is.”

Backus also, Dhillon noted, said of the compound, “‘This seems like an unconventional lifestyle that you’re describing here, but I don’t really see the danger to the community.’ I mean, it’s crazy,” Dhillon continued. “Anybody watching this knows that’s nonsense.”

But Troy Slaten, a criminal defense attorney and partner with Floyd, Skeren, & Kelly LLP, insisted that Backus was “just following the law” by setting low bail.

“The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which we don’t get to talk a lot about outside of law school classrooms, is very clear — the government can’t impose excessive bail. And excessive bail is anything more than what’s required to make sure that somebody comes to court,” Slaten said.

“So the court here imposed not only the $20,000 but electronic monitoring, they have to check in with their lawyers, and there are many other less restrictive means,” he said.

But Dhillon argued that Backus did not go far enough.

Related: Here’s How New Mexico Terrorist Was in U.S. Illegally for Years

“You’ve got a dead kid. You’ve got terrorist training camp going on here. There’s no threat to the public? I mean — that is ridiculous,” Dhillon said. “The prosecution included in their evidence to the judge a handwritten terrorist manifesto about what they wanted to do, and you know, of course the prosecutor wasn’t able to bring these children into court to testify themselves.”

Dhillon said Backus also made “some gratuitous comments” when she “accused the prosecutors of playing on religious prejudice” because they referred to the five suspects’ extreme Muslim rituals.

“And the judge said, ‘Oh, well, I can’t take their religion into consideration.’ Nobody was asking her to take their religion into consideration. It’s the specific acts of the specific criminals,” Dhillon argued.

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