Published: Wed, August 08, 2018
World News | By Laverne Osborne

Body found at United States compound where 11 children were found starving

Body found at United States compound where 11 children were found starving

A New Mexico sheriff says searchers have found the remains of a boy on a property where authorities raided a makeshift compound last week in search of a missing Georgia child.

Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe told CNN that investigators looking for the boy went back to the Amalia compound because they believed they knew roughly where to search.

Hujrah Wahhaj, 38; and Subhannah Wahhaj, 35, were charged with child abuse related to the alleged neglect and abuse of children, who were found living in "filthy" conditions and with hardly any food, the Taos County Sheriff's Office said.

The rescue of 11 hungry children in Amalia, New Mexico, on Friday began with a mysterious tip delivered to a detective across the country, in Clayton County, Georgia, from where young Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj vanished in November.

They were later arrested after authorities executed a second search warrant on the compound on Sunday, and each of the five adults were charged with 11 counts of felony child abuse, Hogrefe said.

Even though his son Abdul-ghani, who was 3 when he disappeared last December, was not among the children found, Sheriff Hogrefe said authorities have reason to believe the boy was at the compound several weeks ago.

Authorities uncover 11 children being held by heavily armed Muslim extremists in New Mexico. Wahhaj is the father of a missing three-year-old Georgia boy. The boy's mother told 9NEWS' sister-station 11Alive in Atlanta that her son took medication for seizures and had developmental and cognitive delays.

Authorities raided the compound Friday.

An arrest warrant affidavit for Wahhaj said the mother claimed Wahhaj "wanted to perform an exorcism" on the child because he believed Abdul-Ghani was possessed by the devil.

He said Federal Bureau of Investigation agents had surveilled the area a few weeks ago but did not find probable cause to search the property.

The children were turned over to state child welfare workers.

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Anderson says the 11 children found inside the compound at first played at neighbouring properties but had stopped in recent months.

Hogrefe's deputies are searching for the child, along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Georgia authorities in Clayton County, where officials say the boy was living before his father took him around December 1, 2017.

The children ranged in age from 1 to 15.

Sheriff Hogrefe described the compound as "the saddest living conditions and poverty" he has seen in 30 years on the job.

Court records show that Siraj Ibn Wahhaj is scheduled to appear in Taos Magistrate Court.

Siraj Ibn Wahhaj is reportedly the son of Siraj Wahhaj, a prominent imam at the Masjid At-Taqwa mosque in Brooklyn, N.Y., who has posted on social media about worries over the missing boy and other family members.

The next day, a dozen officers kicked off the "all day" operation, discovering hidden beneath New Mexico's scrubland the two men with an AR-15 rifle, five loaded 30-round magazines and four loaded pistols, including one in Wahhaj's pocket.

The search for Abdul-ghani led authorities Friday to the compound shielded by old tires, wooden pallets and an earthen wall studded with broken glass. Two more people, Lucas Morten and Jenny Leveille, are also alleged to have kept the 11 children in squalor with nearly no food or water.

The Associated Press reported Jason Badger, who appears to own the land where Wahhaj and the others were living, recently attempted to evict Morton but was unsuccessful.

"Last Thursday, when a message we reasonably believe came from a occupant of the compound or somebody with great knowledge of the compound sent a message saying said basically, we are starving and the children are staving, or something along those lines", he said.

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