OMI confirms identity of body at compound

Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj

SANTA FE – The state Office of the Medical Investigator has confirmed that the child remains found at a makeshift compound in Amalia are those of a missing boy.

“The Office of the Medical Investigator (OMI) has positively identified the remains found earlier this month at the compound near Amalia, N.M., in northern Taos County as belonging to Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj,” University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center spokeswoman Alex Sanchez said in a press release.

Abdul-Ghani, who would now be 4 years old, was allegedly abducted by his father, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, from the boy’s Georgia home in December. Wahhaj and four other adults were arrested at the compound Aug. 3 after a raid by Taos County deputies and state authorities.

In another development, police have seized a live-in trailer that was part of the compound, according to Taos County spokesman Steve Fuhlendorf. It had been partially buried at the ramshackle site.

KOAT reported that the trailer was stolen in Alabama in August 2017, but authorities don’t know if the people in the compound stole it or acquired it from somebody else. The trailer has been pulled out of the ground at the compound, leaving the site an even bigger mess than it was at the time of the raid.

Eleven children, who appeared to be malnourished, were taken into state custody after the raid. The adults were then each charged with 11 counts of child abuse.

The OMI has not determined a cause of death for the dead boy, which is what Taos District Attorney Donald Gallegos said he needs before bringing any new charges forward. “I can’t speculate on what is down the road until I get the results,” Gallegos said.

Deputies returned to the compound Aug. 6 and found the boy’s remains.

One child who resided there told investigators that Abdul-Ghani, who suffered from seizures and other medical problems, died in February during the last of regular prayer rituals that Siraj Ibn Wahhaj performed over the boy, apparently as he suffered seizures.

Abdul-Ghani’s mother told authorities in Georgia that she feared that Siraj Ibn Wahhaj would stop giving the boy his medication after the father and son disappeared in December. Prosecutors said at Monday’s hearing that the father wanted to stop giving the boy medicine after returning from a trip to Saudi Arabia.

On Monday, a Taos judge denied a prosecution motion to keep all five defendants in jail pending trial and said they could be released on unsecured $20,000 bonds and house arrest in new accommodations, saying prosecutors failed to prove the defendants were a threat to the public. Gallegos is considering an appeal.

In any case, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj is going to be held on a Georgia warrant for the alleged kidnapping of his son. Jany Leveille, a native of Haiti and Siraj Ibn Wahhaj’s wife, has been taken into custody by federal immigration authorities. The other three defendants, two women and a man, have not been released from jail. KOAT reported someone trying to help them find places to stay said they’ve been rejected as tenants because of the high-profile nature of the case.

Prosecutors say children from the compound have said they were being trained to make armed attacks on educational, government, law enforcement and financial institutions. The compound residents had guns and ammunition, and books about combat.

Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj

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