It’s another twist to an already bizarre and tragic tale: the rural New Mexico compound where police found the remains of a young child on Monday, just days after 11 starving children were rescued from the same location, has now been identified as an alleged training ground for young school shooters, prosecutors say.
Siraj Wahhaj, 39, the father of a missing 4-year-old boy, was arrested on Friday after 11 other children, ranging in age from 1 to 15, were found at the desert location while police were combing the area for his son. Prosecutors now believe that Wahhaj was training children at that compound to commit school shootings, according to court documents obtained by the Associated Press on Wednesday.
A foster parent of one of the 11 children removed on Friday allegedly told police that their child was trained to use an assault rifle so that they could use it to shoot up a school.
The adults on the compound "trained the child in the use of an assault rifle in preparation for future school shootings," court documents state, according to CNN.
Police described finding a makeshift shooting range, an AR-15 rifle, four pistols ammo when they raided the area in Amalia, which they described as a small travel trailer which had been buried into the ground, covered with plastic. There was reportedly no water, electricity or plumbing at the home. Meanwhile, authorities are still trying to determine if the body of a boy found on Monday is Wahhaj’s son Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, who went missing from Georgia in December.
Abdul-Ghani’s mother told police that he suffers from seizures and cannot walk to due to severe medical issues. She said Wahhaj had taken him to the park in December and never returned. The boy was 3 years old at the time. The mom also told the cops that Wahhaj thought their son was evil and that he wanted to perform an exorcism on him, according to the Associated Press.
The boy was last seen in Chilton County, Alabama, on Dec. 13, 2017, after he, Wahhaj and seven other people in their vehicle were involved in a car accident, according to KOAT in Albuquerque. A responding officer said the group told him that they were headed to New Mexico for a camping trip.
In addition to Wahhaj, four others were arrested during Friday’s raid. Lucas Morten, whose age has not been released, was also arrested. Morten was charged with harboring a fugitive and Wahhaj was charged with child abduction. Three women, believed to be mothers of some of the children, were temporarily detained but they have not been identified. Wahhaj was booked on a no-bond Georgia warrant.
Friday’s raid came after a two-month collaborative investigation between Clayton County, Georgia police and FBI investigators.
“The only food We saw were a few potatoes and a box of rice in the filthy trailer,” Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said. “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 not only with no food or fresh water, but with no shoes, personal hygiene and basically dirty rags for clothing.”
[Photos: Taos County Sheriff’s Office]