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The television news story featured in the post first aired in May 2019. The Alabama training compound featured in the piece was linked to a group that was charged in relation to a terrorism plot, but that the group was not related to Hamas.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Mexico, where the group had another compound, told PolitiFact there was "no indication" the group had ties to Hamas.
A viral video made a startling claim: The Palestinian militant group Hamas controls a plot of U.S. land and is using it as a training ground.
"At first glance, it looks like an abandoned dump," says a reporter in what appears to be a news story featured in a Nov. 12 TikTok video. "But this plot of land in Macon County, Alabama, is described in an FBI search warrant as a makeshift military style obstacle course belonging to a small group of terrorists led by Siraj Wahhaj, who owned the property."
Screenshot from TikTok
TikTok identified this video as part of its efforts to counter inauthentic, misleading or false content. (Read more about PolitiFact's partnership with TikTok.)
The claims misrepresent what happened at the compound, which is not linked to Hamas.
The footage is from a Sinclair Broadcast Group news report that we found published on May 10, 2019. The report did not mention Hamas. Instead, it was about a compound near Tuskegee, Alabama, that the FBI described, in a search warrant Sinclair obtained, as a "makeshift military style obstacle course" run by a group of suspected terrorists.
The group was linked to a similar compound in New Mexico which was raided in August 2018.
Wahhaj, the man mentioned in the video, along with two of his sisters, his brother-in-law and a person named Jany Leveille, were arrested that same month on federal firearms and conspiracy charges. Leveille was charged with being an alien unlawfully possessing firearms and ammunition, while Wahhaj and the others were charged with aiding, abetting and conspiring with Leveille.
The criminal complaint alleged that the five were planning to conduct deadly attacks on what they saw as "corrupt institutions," such as educational, military, law enforcement and financial institutions.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of New Mexico told PolitiFact there is "no indication" that the group has ties to Hamas or any designated terrorist groups. It said the group adopted "unique beliefs and practices" under Leveille’s direction.
A federal grand jury indicted the five in September 2018 on firearms and conspiracy charges. The indictment alleged that from December 2017 to August 2018, they established a training camp and firing range in Taos County, New Mexico, stored firearms and ammunition, and trained as part of their plan to prepare for violent attacks against institutions.
Then, in March 2019, a federal grand jury in Albuquerque, New Mexico, returned a superseding indictment charging the five with offenses related to terrorism, kidnapping and firearms violations. This indictment alleged that the defendants conspired to provide material support and resources that were to be used to carry out violent attacks against federal law enforcement officers and members of the military.
It also charged four members of the group with kidnapping a child in Georgia and transporting the child to New Mexico, where the child died.
According to Snopes, news reports about the Alabama property emerged in the spring of 2019 because the warrant documents were unsealed in April 2019.
On Oct. 20, 2023, a federal jury convicted Wahhaj and his brother-in-law of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, providing material support to terrorists and conspiracy to murder an officer or employee of the United States. His sisters and brother-in-law were convicted of conspiracy to commit kidnapping resulting in death and kidnapping resulting in death.
Leveille pleaded guilty to conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and possessing a firearm while unlawfully in the U.S.
None of the law enforcement statements or indictments mentioned Hamas.
We rate the claim that a video of an Alabama compound showed Hamas "training hidden in plain sight" False.
CORRECTION, Dec. 1, 2023: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the charges against Siraj Wahhaj’s sisters. The sisters were convicted of conspiracy to commit kidnapping resulting in death and kidnapping resulting in death. The story has been corrected.
Instagram post, Nov. 13, 2023
TikTok video, Nov. 12, 2023
TikTok video, Nov. 14, 2023
Sinclair Broadcast Group, FBI uncovers homegrown terror training camp in Alabama, May 10, 2019
Emailed statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of New Mexico, Nov. 29, 2023
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Mexico, FBI Arrests Amalia Compound Residents On Federal Firearms And Conspiracy Charges, Aug. 31, 2018
Justice Department, Leveille complaint, Aug. 31, 2018
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Mexico, Federal grand jury indicts amalia compound defendants on firearms and conspiracy charges, Sept. 11, 2018
Justice Department, Federal grand jury returns superseding indictment against five Amalia, New Mexico, compound defendants, March 14, 2019
Justice Department, Federal jury convicts four New Mexico compound defendants in connection with kidnapping and terrorism plot, October 20, 2023
The Associated Press, Compounds shown in 2019 news clip not linked to Hamas, despite online claims, Nov. 17, 2023
Snopes, Did the FBI Discover a 'Homegrown Islamic Terror Compound' in Alabama?, May 13, 2019
WDHN, INSIDE LOOK: Sheriff combs through possible terrorist camp in east Alabama, May 15, 2019
NBC 15 News, TERROR IN ALABAMA: Alabama's connection to terror suspects, April 29, 2019
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