New Mexico authorities find remains of young boy

Eleven children were held with little food or water in a makeshift compound in Amalia N.M. for an unknown period of time before police raided the location on Friday Aug. 3 2018

Hogrefe said in a news conference on Tuesday that authorities suspected Wahhaj and his son may be at the compound, but there wasn't enough evidence until last week to seek a search warrant, after they received a tip about possible starving children living there.

Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said Tuesday that the remains were found after a search in Amalia, New Mexico, near the Colorado border.

A message from someone inside a makeshift compound in rural northern New Mexico led to the discovery of 11 children living in filthy conditions.

They were turned over to state child-welfare workers.

Officials in Clayton County, Georgia, said the boy and his father were last seen in Alabama, on December 13, when they were involved in a traffic accident while traveling with five other children and two adults, KOAT-TV reported.

Hogrefe became emotional as he noted that Monday marked the abducted child's fourth birthday.

".it had to be a search warrant and a tactical approach for our own safety because we had learned the occupants were most likely heavily armed and considered extremist of the Muslim belief", he said. Morten was charged with harboring a fugitive.

Wahhaj's father - Siraj Wahhaj - is a prominent and controversial NY imam.

The boy's mother told police her child suffered from seizures along with development and cognitive delays.

Hogrefe said the move to search the facility came after a Georgia investigator forwarded a message to him in which someone at the compound told another person that people there were starving and needed water.

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.

"I had no probable cause to go onto this property prior to the day I wrote the first warrant".

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

Five adults, who were all either parents or aunts and uncles to the children, were initially arrested in the raid, and all five have been charged with 11 counts of child abuse.

"That was back in end of January or February", he said, and added that while he also saw the 11 other children, he never saw the three women whom law enforcement said also lived at the makeshift dwelling.

Pictured are (left to right) Lucas Morton, Siraj Wahhaj, Subhannah Wahhaj, Jany Leveille and Hujrah Wahhaj BELOW: The Taos County Sheriff's Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation use shovels to search a compound north of Amalia and near the Colorado border Monday.

Badger said the children "clearly were not taken care of", and believes the sheriff should have - and could have - acted sooner.

What authorities found was what Hogrefe called "the saddest living conditions and poverty" he has seen in 30 years on the job.

This photo provided by the Taos County Sheriff's Department shows Lucas Morton, left, and Siraj Wahhaj.

He said the children looked like "third-world country refugees" with no food, no fresh water, no shoes, "and basically dirty rags" for clothing.

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.

Wahhaj was armed with several guns, including a loaded AR-15 assault rifle, when he was taken into custody without incident at the compound, the sheriff said.

The sheriff said authorities returned to the compound after interviews Friday and Saturday. The women are believed to be the mothers of the 11 children, who range in age from 1 to 15. Wahhaj's relatives, including his -father, an imam at a mosque in Brooklyn, New York, launched a social media campaign to try to find the missing boy.

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