Man accused of training kids for school attacks
TAOS, N.M. (AP) — A father arrested at a ramshackle New Mexico compound where 11 hungry children were found living in filth was training youngsters to commit school shootings, prosecutors said in court documents obtained Wednesday.
The allegations against Siraj Ibn Wahhaj came to light as authorities awaited word on whether human remains discovered at the site were those of his missing son, who is severely disabled and went missing in December in Jonesboro, Georgia, near Atlanta.
The documents say Wahhaj was conducting weapons training with assault rifles at the compound on the outskirts of Amalia, a tiny town near the Colorado border marked by scattered homes and sagebrush.
“He poses a great danger to the children found on the property as well as a threat to the community as a whole due to the presence of firearms and his intent to use these firearms in a violent and illegal manner,” Prosecutor Timothy Hasson wrote in the court documents Wednesday.
Authorities raided the compound Friday in an investigation that has yielded a series of startling revelations — including the discovery of the 11 children in rags and word that Wahhaj wanted to perform an exorcism on his son because he thought the boy was possessed by the devil.
Hasson filed the court documents while asking that Wahhaj be held without bail after he was arrested last week with four other adults at the compound facing child abuse charges.
Prosecutors did not bring up the school shooting accusation during initial court hearings Wednesday for the abuse suspects. A judge ordered them all held without bond pending further proceedings.
In the court documents, authorities said a foster parent of one of the children removed from the compound had told authorities the child had been trained to use an assault rifle in preparation for a school shooting.
Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe previously said adults at the compound were “considered extremist of the Muslim belief.” He did not elaborate, saying it was part of the investigation.
Aleks Kostich of the Taos County Public Defender’s Office questioned the accusation of a school shooting conspiracy, saying the claim was presented with little information beyond the explanation that it came from a foster parent.
Kostich believes prosecutors are not certain about the credibility of the foster parent, whom he has no way of reaching to verify the claim, he said.
The human remains were being analyzed by medical examiners to determine if they are those of Abdul-ghani Wahhaj, the missing boy.