Published: Mon, August 13, 2018

Father recalls compound suspect as high-strung, not radical

Father recalls compound suspect as high-strung, not radical

Eleven children between ages 1 and 15 were found in a makeshift compound in rural New Mexico living in squalid conditions.

He is also named on a list of people who "may be alleged as co-conspirators" in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing in NY, according to court documents released by prosecutors Wednesday.

Wahhaj's father, also named Siraj, is a controversial cleric with close ties to Muslim rights groups like the Islamic Circle of North American, the Muslim American Society and the Center for American Islamic Relations.

One America's Kelly Ayers has the latest.

The missing boy's grandfather says they're his grandson's.

On May 15, law enforcement in New Mexico received an alert about the missing child.

On Monday, authorities returned with new intelligence to retrieve the body of a small boy - possibly the missing and severely disabled Georgia boy Abdul-ghani Wahhaj.

The state medical examiner has not yet identified the body, and prosecutors said they were awaiting word on the cause of death before deciding on any further charges against his father, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, one of the five adults arrested at the compound.

"What I do? I said, 'Find out where to send the food, '" the prominent NY imam told reporters Thursday.

Wahhaj, whom authorities say was eventually found armed with multiple firearms, including an assault rifle, is wanted on a warrant in Georgia in the disappearance of his son.

"To me, there's obviously something happening, some mental disorder, something - I don't know what it is", he said. Morten is also charged with harboring a fugitive, Siraj Wahhaj, on suspicion of knowing that he was committing custodial interference with Abdul-Ghani.

But "to do something as extreme as this doesn't make sense", he said.

My favorite person in this room, that's mutual, is Imam Siraj Wahhaj, who has been a mentor, and motivator and encourager of mine, someone who has taught me to speak truth to power and not worry about the consequences, someone who has taught me we are on this earth to please Allah, and only Allah, that we are not here to please any man or women on this Earth, so I'm grateful to you, Imam Siraj ...

"I wasn't able to save my son", she said.

The imam said the 11 children removed from the site are either his biological grandchildren, or a part of his family through marriage. But he said his son and one of his daughters had become "overly concerned" with the idea of people becoming possessed. She has praised the cleric on her Twitter account dating as far back as at least 2011, and called him a "mentor" at an Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) conference previous year.

The elder Wahhaj was linked to the World Trade Center bombing in 1993 but he was never indicted.

The case took a freakish twist on Wednesday, when court documents alleged that Wahhaj was training one of the children in the compound to commit school shootings.

In January, a note on Wahhaj's Facebook page spoke about Siraj, Hujrah, and Subhanah, his children, and Morton and Leveille, who he identified as his son and daughter in law, and 12 grandchildren.

The elder Wahhaj said he had no knowledge of any such training.

"It sounds insane. But I don't know", he said.

Groves reported from NY.

Hogrefe has said the Federal Bureau of Investigation put the New Mexico compound under surveillance in recent months and took photographs, but he could not initially get a warrant to enter because collected did not show the boy or his father.

He said the images were shared with the mother of Abdul-ghani, but she did not spot her son, and the photographs never indicated the father was at the compound, leaving the sheriff without the information he needed to obtain a search warrant. Authorities said he was snatched from his mother in December in Jonesboro, Georgia, near Atlanta.

He said he did not know what his son and daughters were doing in New Mexico or what prompted them to go into seclusion, but he was anxious to get to the bottom of a situation he described as "bizarre" and 'weird'. That man then notified the grandfather, who said he contacted police.

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