11 emaciated children are rescued from a filthy and heavily armed compound

Aaron Brown
August 8, 2018

The children ranging in age from one to 15 were removed from the compound in the small community of Amalia, New Mexico, and turned over to state child-welfare workers, Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said.

Authorities say the search for Abdul-ghani, of Georgia, led them Friday to the squalid compound where they found his father, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, four other adults and 11 children living in filthy conditions.

The women's arrests come after Siraj Wahhaj and Lucas Morten, the two men on the compound, were taken into custody as deputies strategically stormed the grounds this past weekend.

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.

It took law enforcement hours to secure the property, as both Wahhaj and Morten initially refused to follow verbal commands.

Morton was among five adults arrested after the Taos County sheriff raided the compound in search of the missing Georgia boy who was not found. Authorities haven't released many details about the search for him. "So please, please, I need your help to find my husband and my son", she said through tears. They were discovered in a remote New Mexico compound where an underground trailer kept them hidden from the outside world.

The investigation into locating him is urgent and ongoing and involves the Clayton County Police Department, FBI agents, and multiple New Mexico authorities. Both were eventually taken into custody without incident. Five adults who were living there face child abuse charges.

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The sheriff said they first received information that Abdul-Ghani was possibly in Taos County in May, the same time a surveillance operation began.

"We all gave the kids our water and what snacks we had - it was the saddest living conditions and poverty I have seen", the sheriff said. Wahhaj was the focus of the Georgia investigation, having been accused of abducting his son, while the sheriff's office believes the property was Morten's.

The boy's mother told police that her child, who she said suffered from seizures along with developmental and cognitive issues, went to the park with his father Wahhaj last December and never returned. "These children were hungry, they were thirsty, they were filthy".

A group of 11 children aged between one year old and 15 years have been rescued from a dilapidated compound where they were being held by armed men.

The three women were also arrested over the weekend, and all five adults have been charged with child abuse, third-degree felonies, for allegedly exposing the children to unsafe conditions at the compound. The Sheriff's Office said it believes the child had been at the trailer a couple of weeks prior.

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. She would later become one of the five adults arrested at the compound in New Mexico.

"That all changed for me when a message was forwarded to us from a Georgia detective that we reasonably believed came from someone at the compound". "He needs everything. I don't know if he's alive, or he is, well, I don't know his condition now".

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