Monday, 17 December, 2018

Child's remains found at New Mexico makeshift compound

Eleven children were held with little food or water in a makeshift compound in Amalia N.M. for an unknown period of time before police raided the location on Friday Aug. 3 2018 Taos County Sheriffs Office
Ray Hunter | 08 August, 2018, 16:14

The investigation into a group of starving children found in a desert compound in New Mexico took another dark turn Tuesday, when authorities said they found the remains of a young boy at the squalid property.

Sheriff's investigators who having been looking for a missing Georgia boy at a compound in Taos County, New Mexico, returned to the site believing they had a good idea of where to search, the sheriff said.

There they found 11 emaciated children ranging in age from 1 to 15, along with three women believed to be their mothers - Hujrah Wahhaj, 38; Subhannah Wahhaj, 35; and Jany Leveille, 35.

Police in the USA state of New Mexico have rescued 11 "starving" children in a remote desert compound.

But the missing boy from Georgia, Abdul Ghani Wahhaj, was nowhere to be found. Authorities said there was reason to believe he was at the compound a "few weeks ago".

The investigation started late last year in Jonesboro, Georgia, where 39-year-old Siraj Wahhaj was accused of kidnapping his own toddler - who was ultimately not found.

Hogrefe became emotional as he noted that Monday marked the abducted child's fourth birthday.

Children, Youth and Families Department Secretary Monique Jacobson told the Tuesday news conference that CYFD was going to file a petition for prolonged custody of the children.

Police arrested Morten on suspicion he was harboring a fugitive, officials said.

Albuquerque television station KOAT-TV, an ABC affiliate, said the missing boy, named Abdul, was first reported missing by his mother in December after the father left with the child on a supposed trip to a park. Meanwhile, Hakima Ramzi, Wahhaj's wife, said she was aware that her husband wanted to do something about their son's medical issues, CNN reports.

The boy's father was among five people arrested after the raid near the border with Colorado.

The father told the boy's mother before fleeing Georgia that he wanted to perform an exorcism on the child, who he believed was possessed by the devil, according to documents made public in a court filing on Monday.

California Governor Seeks Wildfire Aid from Trump as State Battles 17 Blazes
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Law enforcement then "had enough probable cause for a search warrant" to search for Wahhaj and the boy on the property, Hogrefe said.

Five adults, including three mothers, were charged in the case. The children were taken away for medical tests.

"We all gave the kids our water and what snacks we had", he added, "it was the saddest living conditions and poverty I have seen".

The boy's father, Siraj Wahhaj, was arrested Friday along with his sisters Hujrah Wahhaj and Subhannah Wahhaj after authorities raided the compound.

On the morning of August 3, a dozen officers began the "all day" operation, and discovered the two men with an AR-15 rifle, five loaded 30-round magazines and four loaded pistols, including one in Wahhaj's pocket.

The children "looked like third-world country refugees", Hogrefe said.

Eight members of the TCSO's Sheriff's Response Team and four members of the State OSI unit were involved in executing the search warrant on the compound Friday, Hogrefe said.

In a federal court filing in 2006, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj claimed he was harassed on his way to and from Morocco by customs agents at JFK Airport in NY because he is "the son of the famous Muslim Imam Siraj Wahhaj".

The group appeared to have been living at the compound for a few months.

Police described the compound as a small underground trailer covered by plastic, with no running water or electricity.

Police went in after the sheriff in Taos, New Mexico, was forwarded a note from someone on the property given to Georgia police, which read: we are starving and need food and water.

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