Sheriff: Body of unidentified child found on New Mexico compound

Siraj Wahhaj was jailed on a Georgia warrant alleging child abduction

AP Siraj Wahhaj was jailed on a Georgia warrant alleging child abduction

For months, neighbours had been concerned about a squalid compound built in a remote part of the U.S. state of New Mexico, saying they had brought their concerns to authorities long before sheriff's officials first found 11 hungry children, and then the remains of a small boy on the lot.

Two men were arrested in a raid on Friday as part of the operation connected to a months-long search for the child, according to New Mexico's Taos County Sheriff's office.

Clayton County Police have been searching for the toddler and 39-year-old Siraj Wahhaj since December 2017.

Hogrefe described the compound as "the saddest living conditions and poverty" he has ever seen.

The children, ranging in age from one to 15, were discovered last week in a raid of a partially underground rural New Mexico compound and turned over to state child welfare workers.

The two men were also arrested, each facing 11 counts of child abuse. They arrested two men and detained three women, who appeared to be the mothers of the children.

Georgia authorities said Mr Wahhaj was traveling through Alabama's Chilton County with seven children and another adult when their vehicle overturned.

Though they haven't clarified the source of their thinking, authorities have revealed that they have reason to believe Wahhaj was denying Abdul-Ghani his medication.

Wahhaj was booked on his no bond warrant for child abduction. The child reportedly suffered from hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, experiencing seizures and requiring round-the-clock medical attention.

In a court filing Monday, Abdul-ghani's father told the boy's mother before fleeing Georgia that he wanted to perform an exorcism on the child because he believed he was possessed by the devil.

Alabama police said they were told the group were going camping in New Mexico, the station said. The travelers were picked up by Morton.

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". Officials announced they found the body of a young boy at the compound on Monday, but have not determined his identity.

In a tearful Facebook Live video in January, Hakima Ramzi pleaded for the return of her son, who she said had physical and mental disabilities. We pray to Allah that Allah protect him.

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The rubbish-strewn camp had little by way of food or water, while its inhabitants did not have shoes and wore rags for clothes.

Hogrefe had previously described the residents of the compound as extremist. "I haven't seen him since then".

As I said, we worked collectively with Federal Bureau of Investigation and Georgia authorities.

"The investigation is still ongoing both federally and on the state level", the sheriff said.

He doesn't recall seeing the Georgia boy who was missing.

The FBI and authorities in Georgia indicated to the sheriff's office that there could be weapons on the compound, and deputies learned that there had been a shooting range installed there, Hogrefe said.

Last Thursday, someone got a message to Georgia police saying people in the compound were starving.

Anderson said the children found inside the compound at first played at neighboring properties but stopped in recent months.

"We just figured they were doing what we were doing, getting a piece of land and getting off the grid", said Anderson, who moved to New Mexico from Seattle with his wife seven years ago. The court case over a purchase agreement between the Badgers and Morton was dismissed.

Authorities raided the isolated property near the Colorado border last week.

The five adults, including the boy's father, have been charged with child abuse. The minors are in protective custody.

When he was arrested, Mr Wahhaj was armed with several guns, including a loaded AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, the sheriff said. Four handguns were also found in the room. Three women living on site are believed to be the mothers of the children.

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