Kids found in rags in New Mexico amid tale of guns, exorcism


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A raid on a New Mexico desert compound turned up 11 children wearing rags and living in filth, and also broke open a bizarre tale of guns, exorcism, and a search for a missing young boy who suffers from seizures and is nowhere to be found.

The boy's father was among five people arrested after the raid near the border with Colorado. Documents made public in a court filing today said the father told the boy's mother before fleeing Georgia that he wanted to perform an exorcism on the child because he believed he was possessed by the devil.

Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said deputies arrested the father, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, and four other adults on child abuse charges after finding the 11 children Friday inside a makeshift compound in the tiny community of Amalia, near the Colorado border. It was littered with "odorous trash" and lacking clean water, authorities said.

Inside, Wahhaj, 39, was found heavily armed with multiple firearms, including a loaded AR-15, before he was taken into custody, the sheriff said.

His son, Abdul-ghani, who was 3 when he disappeared last December, was not among the children found. But Hogrefe said authorities have reason to believe the boy was at the compound several weeks ago.

Hogrefe's deputies are searching for the child, along with the FBI and Georgia authorities in Clayton County, where officials say the boy was living before his father took him around Dec. 1, 2017.

The boy's mother told authorities the boy suffers from seizures, cannot walk because of severe medical issues, and requires constant attention.

She told police in December that Wahhaj had taken the boy for a trip to a park and never returned.

Clayton County police said in a missing persons bulletin that Wahhaj and his son were last seen Dec. 13 in Alabama, traveling with five other children and two adults.

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