Moms of 11 children found at New Mexico compound arrested

Siraj Wahhaj

"But what was most surprising, and heartbreaking was when the team located a total of five adults and 11 children that looked like third world country refugees".

Besides several potatoes and a box of rice, he wrote, there was no sign of food. Authorities are awaiting a positive identification of the remains.

Authorities swarmed the remote property in Amalia last week after securing a warrant to search for a missing 3-year-old boy who police believed was kidnapped by his father, 39-year-old Siraj Wahhaj.

Taos County Sheriff's deputies have not yet determined if the remains belong to missing 3-year-old Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj.

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. He began contacting law enforcement with concerns about what was happening on his land, but said he received no response.

Tyler Anderson of Amalia said Tuesday he had helped the newcomers install solar panels after they arrived in December.

The children have been turned over to New Mexico Children Youth and Families Department.

Five adults who were living there face child abuse charges.

Abdul-Ghani was not among the 11 children found at the compound, but authorities said they "reasonably believe" he was there as recently as a few weeks ago. "He can not walk and suffers seizures and requires constant medical attention", Ramzi said. At that time, Siraj Wahhaj said he was taking the little boy to the park, but they never returned.

The officer added that the women and children "were brainwashed and feel great intimidation from the men that were in control of this facility". However, the site was not searched immediately given a lack of "probable cause". None of the adults said anything about the boy's whereabouts, the sheriff's office said.

Police did not say how they tracked down Wahhaj and the others in Amalia, an unincorporated community in mountainous Taos County along New Mexico's northern border. They would not confirm the identity of the body, but 4-year-old Abdul Wahhaj has been missing since December. He didn't provide further comment, citing the early stage of the case.

The discovery came as part of an operation connected to a search for an abducted three-year-old, according to Taos County sheriff's office. Children ages 1 to 15 were rescued from the compound that had been under investigation for months.

The Sheriff said the Federal Bureau of Investigation had "recently provided information and surveillance on this location, but they (FBI) didn't feel there was enough probable cause to get on the property".

It wasn't clear who sent the message or how it was communicated.

Criminal complaints filed against the defendants in Taos Magistrate Court detail the allegations of abuse against the two men and three women.

In a January Facebook post, Imam Siraj Wahhaj called for the safe return of his three children and 12 grandchildren.

Wahhaj is being held in police custody while the second man, Lucas Morten, has been charged on suspicion of harbouring a fugitive.

In the aftermath of the raid, Badger visited the compound.

The Sheriff's Office named the three females as Jany Leveille (35), Hujrah Wahhaj (38), and Subhannah Wahhaj (35).

Jail booking photos show them wearing traditional Muslim veils or hijabs.

Ibn Wahhaj and Morten at first refused to cooperate.

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