Monday 22 October 2018

Children discovered at New Mexico compound 'were being trained to commit school shootings'

Taos County Planning Department officials Rachel Romero, left, and Eric Montoya survey property conditions at a disheveled living compound at Amalia, N.M., on Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Lee Morgan)
Taos County Planning Department officials Rachel Romero, left, and Eric Montoya survey property conditions at a disheveled living compound at Amalia, N.M., on Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Lee Morgan)
Police tape restricts access to a disheveled living compound in Amalia, N.M., on Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018 (AP Photo/Lee Morgan)
A makeshift shooting range stands adjacent to a disheveled living compound in Amalia, N.M., on Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Lee Morgan)
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Two men charged in the abuse of 11 youths found malnourished at a ramshackle compound in New Mexico were training the children with firearms to commit school shootings, prosecutors said in court documents filed in the case on Wednesday.

Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe told reporters on Tuesday that investigators found a shooting range built at one end of the squalid compound, located on the outskirts of the community of Amalia in northern New Mexico, near the Colorado border.

Wahhaj, 39, whose first name is alternately presented in some court documents as Siraj and is the person described as being "in control" of the compound, was heavily armed when taken into custody, the sheriff said.

A foster parent of one of the 11 children told authorities that Wahhaj "had trained the child in the use of an assault rifle in preparation for future school shootings," prosecutors alleged in an expedited motion for pretrial detention.

Children’s clothes drying in the makeshift compound in New Mexico. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Children’s clothes drying in the makeshift compound in New Mexico. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Georgia man Siraj Wahhaj after his arrest. (Taos County Sheriff's Office via AP)
The children were found in a rural compound in New Mexico (Taos County Sheriff’s Office via AP)
From left, Subhannah Wahhaj, Jany Leveille and Hujrah Wahhaj (Taos County Sheriff’s Department via AP)
Lucas Morton, left, and Siraj Wahhaj (Taos County Sheriff’s Department via AP)
The rural compound was searched by police (Taos County Sheriff’s Office via AP)
Jany Leveille is believed to be one of the mothers of 11 children found living in a filthy compound in New Mexico. Photo: Taos County Sheriff via AP
Taos County Solid Waste Department Director Edward Martinez surveys property conditions at a disheveled living compound at Amalia, N.M. (AP Photo/Morgan Lee)

The document further stated that Wahhaj was "under investigation for the death" of a 12th child at the compound, as well as for "training of children with weapons in furtherance of a conspiracy to commit school shootings."

Read more: Young boy's remains found at New Mexico desert compound where starving children were discovered

The court filing also states he "transported children across state lines for the purpose of children receiving advanced weapons training to commit future acts of violence."

Similar allegations were leveled in a motion prosecutors filed seeking expedited pretrial detention of Morton.

The court documents said that most of the defendants appeared to be from Georgia, New York or elsewhere from the U.S. East Coast.

No mention was made of ideology or motive in initial court filings. The sheriff in comments over the weekend referred to the suspects as "extremists of Muslim belief," but he declined to elaborate on that characterization when asked about it by reporters at a news conference on Tuesday.

According to CNN, Wahhaj is himself the son of a prominent Muslim cleric in New York.

The FBI is also taking part in the investigation, the sheriff said. So far, no federal charges are known to have been brought in the case.

Press Association

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