Adults arrested at New Mexico compound released from jail

Photo courtesy Taos County Sheriff's Office

Aug. 14 (UPI) — A New Mexico state District Court judge ruled Monday five adults found living in a makeshift compound with 11 malnourished children can be released from jail on bond.

Judge Sarah Backus said she was concerned by troubling facts, but said prosecutors failed prove the group posed a threat to the public so they were each released on a $20,000 bond, ordered to wear ankle monitors and have weekly contact with their attorneys.

No money would be due by the defendants unless they violate conditions of release, during which they will be allowed supervised contact with the children.

Last week, officials discovered the remains of a child at the compound while searching for a 4-year-old boy whose mother reported him missing. When looking for the boy, Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, they found the 11 children living in squalor with no fresh water and little food.

The remains, believed to be the missing four-year-old boy, was found at a tunnel in the compound near the community of Amalia, close to the Colorado border.

The prosecution said the boy died during one of group’s religious rituals and was supposed to be resurrected as Jesus and identify for the group the institutions that were to be attacked.

Testimony by an FBI agent said the boy’s body was washed several times, wrapped in sheets and buried on the compound. As the boy’s body decomposed, it was moved to a tunnel beneath the compound where two of the adults would wash him daily.

The sheriff’s office arrested the boy’s father, 39-year-old Siraj Wahhaj, and four other adults at the compound.

During the hearing Monday, prosecutors argued the compound was filthy and the adults were training the children to kill.

One child told the FBI they were being taught how to use assault weapons so they could protect the compound.

The defense fired back, arguing it is not illegal to teach children how to shoot a gun and said guns found at the compound are readily available at retail stores.The defence also argued the group made no aggressive moves when law enforcement officers raided the site Aug. 3.


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