The children rescued from a New Mexico desert compound believed a 3-year-old boy found buried would be resurrected and guide them on “corrupt” institutions for the family to attack, prosecutors said on Monday.
The boy, identified as Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj by his grandfather, had been reported missing since December. Prosecutors told a court on Aug. 13 that the boy allegedly died in February this year during a ritualistic religious ceremony aimed to “cast out demonic spirits.”
“It was a religious ritual carried out on Abdul-Ghani, a ritual intended to cast out demonic spirits,” Taos County Prosecutor John Lovelace said.
One of the children, 15, told investigators that a suspect, who has since been arrested for child abuse at the compound, told him that the 3-year-old would “return as Jesus” to identify teachers and government institutions as targets for them to attack, according to NBC.
“They were awaiting for Abdul-Ghani to be resurrected to let them know which government institutions to get rid of,” Lovelace said.
Authorities found the boy’s remains on Aug. 6 during a raid on the 10-acre compound for the missing Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj. Earlier in the raid, they found 11 other children, aged between 1 and 15, alive but malnourished and living in filthy and squalid conditions.
The children were living in such horrible conditions that they looked like “third-world-country refugees” and had only “dirty rags for clothing,” the sheriff described.
Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said in a statement on Aug. 4 that officials found that the “occupants were most likely heavily armed and considered extremist of the Muslim belief.”
“We all gave the kids our water and what snacks we had—it was the saddest living conditions and poverty I have seen,” he said.
Five adults, including three mothers of the children, were subsequently arrested.
The mother of the deceased boy said that one of the suspects, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, who also the boy’s father, wanted to perform an exorcism of his son because he thought the boy was possessed, CBS News reported, citing court documents. The mother told officials that the boy suffered from seizures, could not walk, and was in need of constant attention.
After searching the compound, authorities believe that Siraj, 39, was conducting weapons training with assault rifles with the children at the compound near the Colorado border. They found him armed with multiple firearms and uncovered a suspected firing range on the property.
According to Lovelace, Siraj told police at the time that he had the guns because he worked for an executive security business and that he was going on a camping trip in New Mexico.
Siraj, his spouse Jany Leveille, his sister Subhannah Wahhaj, his brother-in-law Lucas Morton, and another sister, Hujrah Wahhaj are all suspects in the case accused of training the children to use firearms “in furtherance of a conspiracy to commit school shootings.”
The five suspects were each charged with 11 counts of felony child abuse. Siraj was also charged in the alleged abduction of his son from his mother’s Atlanta home last December.
Prosecutors argued that bail should be denied for all defendants but their request was rejected by state District Judge Sarah Backus. The judge said that although the facts were “troubling,” the prosecutors had failed to show any specific threats to the community, reported Fox.
A $20,000 bond has been set for each of the suspects. They were also ordered to wear ankle monitors and have weekly contact with their attorneys.
Siraj is the son of a Brooklyn imam who has a possible link to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
Reuters and The Epoch Times’ Jack Phillips contributed to this report