Per court documents filed on 8 August, the two men on trial for abducting 11 children in the US state of New Mexico were training at least some of the youths to use firearms.
Prosecutors in the case will lead evidence that the youths found in squalid conditions in the compound were abducted and taken there to prepare them to carry out violent school attacks.
The children have been taken into custody after being found starving and in ill health. They are aged between one and 15 years old.
Prosecutors have filed an expedited motion for pretrial detention which includes testimony from one of the foster parents that a child held in the compound had been trained “in the use of an assault rifle in preparation for future school shootings.”
New Mexico child abuse suspects accused of training children for shootings https://t.co/Is84mZdMkr
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) August 8, 2018
Children in the squalid compound were forced into “advanced weapons training”
The filings further assert that Siraj Ibn Wahhaj has been “training of children with weapons in furtherance of a conspiracy to commit school shootings” and “transported children across state lines for the purpose of children receiving advanced weapons training to commit future acts of violence”.
Siraj Ibn Wahhaj is the principal suspect in the case. He was charged with abducting his three-year-old son, Abdul-Ghani, from Atlanta last year. There was grave concern for the child because he suffers from a range of severe health ailments including frequent seizures and he cannot walk. His father did not have any medication with him.
The ensuing manhunt for the missing child eventually led authorities to the compound in Taos, New Mexico, which was raided last week.
Authorities were stunned at the gruesome conditions the children were forced to live in. The ramshackle compound had no electricity, fresh water or plumbing and was surrounded by piles of tires and fetid garbage.
Remains of a young boy believed to be Wahhaj’s missing son, were also located on the property on 6 August. That would have been his fourth birthday. The body has not yet been positively identified but authorities have reason to believe Abdul-Ghani had previously been at the compound.
Eleven children were found living in filthy conditions at a New Mexico compound. 5 adults face child abuse charges, and court documents show one of them is under investigation for training children to commit school shootings. @OmarVillafranca has more. https://t.co/tjOM2qgIKL pic.twitter.com/QIcoLE5kpo
— CBS News (@CBSNews) August 8, 2018
Law enforcement officials had suspicions about the compound given it had a makeshift shooting range attached and placed it under surveillance. The local Sheriff’s office became especially concerned after it intercepted a message from someone within the compound saying people there were “starving and need food and water”.
“I began working on a search warrant right after I got that intercepted message,” Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefer said in a statement.
“It had to be a search warrant and a tactical approach for our own safety because we had learned the occupants were most likely heavily armed.”
The Sheriff went on to say discovering the site was the most distressing moment of his 30 years in the police force. “I’ve never seen anything like this. Unbelievable,” Hogrefe said. “These children were hungry, they were thirsty, they were filthy.”
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) August 8, 2018
Weapons seized from the compound
Wahhaj, Lucas Morton and three women, Hujrah Wahhaj (38) and Jany Leveille and Subhannah Wahhaj (both 35) all entered not guilty pleas to 11 counts of felony child abuse at the arraignment on 8 August. Morton also faces an additional charge of harbouring a fugitive. Prosecutors will allege Wahhaj was in control of the compound.
Authorities retrieved an AR-15 rifle, five loaded magazines, four loaded pistols and a range of ammunition from the site.
Siraj Wahhaj, a prominent New York Imam, and the father of Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, said through a spokesperson that he had no knowledge the site was being used to train children.
Header image: MCJdetroti