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Children Trained In New Mexico Compound To Be School Shooters, Prosecutors Say

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Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, arrested in connection with a raid by authorities on a squalid compound in rural New Mexico where 11 children were taken into protective custody for their own health and safety, is shown in this booking photo, in Amalia, New Mexico, Aug. 6, 2018. Photo: Reuters/Taos County Sheriff's Office Handout

By Susmitha Suresh, International Business Times

The son of a controversial Brooklyn Imam and four others were training 11 children to commit school shootings at a New Mexico compound, prosecutors said Wednesday.

According to the documents filed against the suspects at the court, the children were undergoing weapons training at the compound near the Colorado border. They were being trained by 39-year-old Siraj Ibn Wahhaj to carry out spree killings similar to the ones that happened at Columbine, Sandy Hook or Majory Stoneman Douglas High School, Taos County prosecutors said.

“There is a substantial likelihood the defendant may commit new crimes due to his planning and preparation for future school shootings” if the suspects are released from custody, the document said.

[post_ads]The documents were filed by Prosecutor Timothy Hasson. He also requested the court to hold Wahhaj without bail.

Wahhaj is the son of Imam Siraj Wahhaj, who was tied to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. He was called “an unindicted co-conspirator” of the event by the FBI, officials said.

Spokesman Imam Al-Hajj Talib Abdur-Rashid said the Imam didn’t know anything about the alleged training. The compound where the children were rescued from had a shooting range. Loaded firearms were also recovered from the site.

The authorities raided the compound on Aug. 3 in search of a four-year-old boy, Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, who was confirmed to be the suspect’s son. He was allegedly abducted from his mother in Georgia in December.

According to authorities, they had found Wahhaj heavily armed when they raided the compound. He was carrying a loaded revolver and had five fully loaded 30-round magazines on his belt. They found an AR-15 rifle right beside him. Four more guns were found inside a shack located on the makeshift property.

Conditions at a compound in rural New Mexico where 11 children were taken into protective custody after a raid by authorities, are shown in this photo near Amalia, New Mexico, Aug. 6, 2018. Photo: Reuters/Taos County Sheriff's Office Handout

A boy’s remains were found at the compound. The police are unclear if the remains are that of the same boy.
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The 11 children were kept in extremely poor conditions, with bare minimum food and clothes, and no electricity and plumbing.

“They were skinny, their ribs showed, they were in very poor hygiene and very scared,” Jerry Hogrefe, the Taos County sheriff, said. He added that the children “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.”

The children, whose age ranged between 1 and 15, were handed over to child-welfare workers.

Wahhaj, along with the four other suspects —Wahhaj’s sisters Hujrah Wahhaj and Subhannah Wahhaj, Lucas Morten and Jany Leveille—were brought before the court in Taos, New Mexico on Wednesday. They faced charges of 11 counts of child abuse due neglect and abuse of children.

The two sisters, believed to be the mothers of at least some of the rescued children, pleaded not guilty. On Monday, the five will have a pre-trial detention hearing, said Aleksandar Kostich, a state public defender.

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