While Abdul Wahhaj was not among the 11 children the New Mexico Children Youth and Families Division took into protective custody on Friday, law enforcement say they arrested the child's father and alleged abductor, 40-year-old Siraj Ibn Wahhaj.
- A raid on a New Mexico desert compound turned up 11 children wearing rags and living in filth, and also broke open a weird tale of guns, exorcisms and a search for a missing young boy who suffers from seizures and is nowhere to be found.
All three were charged with child abuse on Sunday after initially being released by police who said they were "brainwashed and intimidated" by the men.
Instead, deputies found five adults and 11 other children who "looked like third-world country refugees", living in squalor with little food and no clean water, according to Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe.
Siraj Wahhaj was detained on an outstanding warrant in Georgia alleging child abduction.
Authorities discovered the children while searching for a missing 3-year-old boy, who still hasn't been located.
Five adults - two men and three women - were accompanying the children.
The arrests were part of the operation connected to a months-long search for an abducted three-year-old, according to New Mexico's Taos County sheriff's office. "It was the saddest living conditions and poverty I have seen". Wahhaj was armed and refused to comply with commands.
Wahhaj is being held in police custody while the second man, Lucas Morten, has been charged on suspicion of harbouring a fugitive.
Police found many more ammo rounds in the ramshackle hideout, they said, which they described as "a small travel trailer buried in the ground covered by plastic with no water, plumbing, or electricity".
There were no injuries during the search, the sheriff said.
The sheriff's office raided the property Friday after obtaining a message believed to have been written by someone from the compound: "We are starving and need food and water".
The compound was searched after officers watching the property received a message that said: "We are starving and need food and water".
Taos County deputies were horrified by what they saw when they reached the compound.
The FBI and Clayton County, Georgia investigators reportedly had been conducting surveillance on the compound near Amalia for two months, believing a Georgia man wanted on child abduction charges was holed up there.
Hogrefe said that Federal Bureau of Investigation agents had surveilled the compound a few weeks previous but did not at the time find probable cause to conduct a search.
Also on the compound was his brother-in-law, Lucas Morton and three women; Subhanah Wahhaj, 35, Hujrah Wahhaj, 38, and Jany Leveille, 35, who is also known as Maryam.
The search for the young child began back in January, when Wahhaj's estranged wife, Hakima Ramzi, reportedly recorded a video on Facebook begging for help in finding her son. The 3-year-old had been reported missing from his mother's Georgia home in December.
Police reports show that a Georgia boy missing after authorities raided a New Mexico compound over the weekend was last seen in Alabama in December.