Fifth Member of Jewish Cult Charged in Child Kidnapping Plot

Children, age 12 and 14, kidnapped by members of the Lev Tahor sect and later found by authorities in Mexico; leader has vowed to fight mother 'until last drop of blood'

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Chaim Teller, 12, left, and his sister Yante Teller, 14, were kidnapped by the Jewish group 'Lev Tahor' on December 8, 2018.
Chaim Teller, 12, left, and his sister Yante Teller, 14, were kidnapped by the Jewish group 'Lev Tahor' on December 8, 2018.Credit: ,AP

Federal authorities this week arrested another member of an extremist Jewish sect in what the FBI called a new plot to abduct two New York children who recently fled the ultra-Orthodox group.

Matityau Moshe Malka appeared in a Manhattan federal court Tuesday on charges of kidnapping and obstruction of justice.

The FBI said Malka and other members of Lev Tahor planned to kidnap a 14-year-old girl and her 12-year-old brother three months after they were taken from their mother in upstate New York and later recovered by law enforcement in Mexico.

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Authorities said Malka gave several cellphones to the girl so she could speak with members of the Guatemala-based sect, including its leader, who is not named in the criminal complaint.

The group’s leader recently vowed to fight the mother of the children “until the last drop of blood,” the document says, and “indicated that there are people in New York prepared to execute” another kidnapping.

A message seeking comment was sent to Malka’s defense attorney.

Authorities charged four other members of Lev Tahor in December with abducting the same boy and girl and taking them out of the country. The children eventually were found in the Mexican town of Tenango del Aire and reunited with their mother in New York.

The mother had been a member of Lev Tahor— her father founded the sect in 1994 — but fled the group last year after its leadership became increasingly extreme, according to the FBI.

The sect has been accused of subjecting children to physical and sexual abuse.

The criminal complaint says Lev Tahor considers the 14-year-old girl to be the wife of Jacob Rosner, one of the men charged in the December kidnapping.

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