Remains at New Mexico compound are missing boy, says grandfather

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A severely disabled Georgia boy who authorities say was kidnapped by his father and marked for an exorcism was found buried at the New Mexico desert compound that has been the focus of investigators for the past week, the toddler’s grandfather said.

New Mexico authorities, however, said they had yet to identify the remains, found on Monday. Prosecutors said they were awaiting word on the cause of death before deciding on any charges.

The boy, Abdul-ghani Wahhaj, would have turned four on Monday. Authorities said he was snatched from his mother in December in Jonesboro, Georgia, near Atlanta.

New Mexico
The makeshift compound at Amalia, New Mexico (Morgan Lee/AP)

The missing boy’s grandfather, Siraj Wahhaj, a Muslim cleric who leads a well-known New York City mosque, told reporters he had learned from other family members that the remains were his grandson’s.

The imam said he did not know the cause of death.

“Whoever is responsible, then that person should be held accountable,” Mr Wahhaj said.

The compound site in New Mexico
The compound site in New Mexico (AP)

The child’s father was among five adults arrested on suspicion of child abuse at the compound after the children were discovered. In court papers, prosecutors also said Wahhaj had been training children there to carry out school shootings.

Siraj Ibn Wahhaj
Siraj Ibn Wahhaj in court (Morgan Lee/AP{)

All 11 of the children, he said, were either his biological grandchildren or members of his family through marriage.

“I’m very concerned with the condition of my grandchildren,” he said. He said he did not understand why his son had taken the family and disappeared into the desert, but suggested a psychiatric disorder was to blame.

“My son can be maybe a little bit extreme,” he said, though he added that he never thought he was extreme enough to kill anyone. “High-strung,” he said.

The grandfather heads a mosque that has attracted radicals over the years, including a man who later helped bomb the World Trade Centre in 1993.

New Mexico’s Office of the Medical Investigator said it was still working to identify the remains.

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