Authorities say the father of a missing boy whose remains were found following a raid of a New Mexico compound had performed rituals in an attempt to rid the disabled child of demons before the child died.
Defence lawyer Thomas Clark said the prosecution was using a double standard because the suspects are "black and Muslim". He would have turned four the day the remains were discovered.
The principal suspect, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, 39, has also been charged with abducting his severely ill 3-year-old son, Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, from the Atlanta home of the boy's mother in December.
Various items litter the kitchen of a makeshift living compound in Amalia, N.M., on Friday, Aug. 10, 2018, where five adults were arrested on child abuse charges and remains of a boy were found. The remains of a young boy were found on the compound on August 6, the same day Abdul Ghani would have turned four.
Clark said Ibn Wahhaj would remain in custody due to a fugitive warrant against him in Georgia stemming from the cross-country manhunt that led investigators to the New Mexico compound.
The children, ranging from 1 to 15 years of age, were clothed in rags and starving when they were found on August 3, authorities said.
The revelation came Monday in a pretrial detention hearing for the boy's father, Siraj Wahhaj, one of five adults arrested in the raid, and his sisters, Hujrah Wahhaj and Subhannah Wahhaj, his wife Jany Leveille, and another co-defendant, Lucas Morten. However, the government said there was more to it than that. Taylor said prospective targets would include "the financial system, law enforcement, the education system".
An FBI agent told the court that after Abdul-Ghani died, the children were told he would return "as Jesus" and tell them where to carry out attacks, an FBI agent told the court.
Lovelace said police at the time found weapons and ammunition in the vehicle.
Prosecutors said in court documents filed last week that all five defendants were giving firearms instruction to the children "in furtherance of a conspiracy to commit school shootings".
Authorities acknowledged in court on Monday that police had previously encountered Ibn Wahhaj, Leveille and seven of the children in December when they were involved in a traffic accident in Alabama.
According to Lovelace, Ibn Wahhaj told police at the time that he had the guns because he worked for an executive security business and that he was going on a camping trip in New Mexico.