Abdul-ghani Wahaj

Tragedy in New Mexico: 11 starving children rescued from horrifying desert camp

Arrest have been made after police in Taos County, New Mexico discovered a horrifying desert camp, where the body of a young boy was found, over the weekend. The “makeshift compound,” housed five adults and 11 children “wearing rags,” between the ages of one and 15-years-old. The young children were allegedly being trained to commit attacks against schools. Police arrested 39-year-old Siraj Wahhaj and another man, Lucas Morten, in relation to the crime. Three women, thought to be the children’s mothers, were also arrested and arraigned in district court, with the two men, on Thursday, August 9. 

four-year-old-boy-missing Police are awaiting the autopsy report to determine if the remains of a young boy found are those of Abdul-ghani Wahaj Photo: Go Fund Me

Siraj, Lucas, Janey Leveille, Hujrah Wahhaj, Subhannah Wahhaj were all accused of child abuse and harboring a fugitive.All five defendants will be bounded until a preliminary hearing schedule for August 10 and 13. “We’ve still got a lot of work ahead of us to prepare for the hearings but are on track,” Sherriff Jerry Hogrefe said in a press release issued on August 9. “We are still waiting for reports from the Office of the Medical Investigations to see what happens next.

Police are also waiting to confirm if the remains of a young child found inside of the compound are those of Siraj’s son, four-year-old Abdul-ghani Wahaj, who was reported missing my his mother in December.  On Tuesday, police said they were awaiting autopsy results to positively identify the child. Abdul-ghani, who suffered a series of medical issues, was reported missing out of Georgia when he went to a trip to the park with his father, and never returned.

nm-compound 11 children were found living in "horrific" conditions in a compound in New Mexico Photo: Facebook/Taos County Sheriff's Office

According to documents, Abdul-ghani’s mother told police that his father wanted to perform and exorcism on the child, because he believed his was possessed by the devil. During an interview with ABC News Radio on Monday, August 6, Sheriff Hogrefe further revealed: "I've been a cop for 30 years. I've never seen anything like this. Unbelievable." He continued: "They were skinny, their ribs showed, they were in very poor hygiene and very scared. But they certainly warmed up to us. We gave them our water, our snacks, everything that we had. And these kids were hungry, and they were very grateful that we were there."

The owner of the Amalia property where the group apparently were squatting, Jason Badger, told the Taos News, said he had seen the missing child more than once and also saw all the children, who were "clearly were not taken care of," on the land, which was one reason he tried to find a peaceful solution with the two men. He also told the newspaper he filed a complaint about the situation in Taos Magistrate Court.

sheriff-jerry-new-mexico Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe held a press conference to brief the media on the revelation 

The Taos County Police department believed it was time to search the compound, when they were sent messages by someone believed to have been living on the property that read, “We are starving and need food and water.” The department declined to answer how the messages were received. Among the weapons seized on the site, described by authorities as a "makeshift compound", were an AR15 rifle, five magazines of 30 cartridges and four loaded pistols.

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