NEW YORK – A serious handicap Georgia boy who authorities say was kidnapped by his father and who is marked for an exorcism, it was found, buried in the ramshackle compound in the desert of New Mexico, which is the focus of the researchers for the past week, the toddler’s grandfather said Thursday.
New Mexico authorities, however, said that they still had to identify the remains, discovered Monday. And the prosecutor said they were awaiting word on the cause of death before deciding on any charges.
The boy, Abdul-ghani Wahhaj, would have turned 4 on Monday. The authorities, said he was snatched from his mother in December in Jonesboro, Georgia, near Atlanta.
The search for him led authorities in New Mexico, where 11 children who are hungry, and younger remains have been found in the last few days on a filthy compound protected by old tires, wooden pallets and an earthen wall studded with broken glass.
The missing boy’s grandfather, Siraj Wahhaj, an Islamic clergyman who leads a well-known New York City mosque, told reporters that he had learned from the other members of the family were the remains of his grandson.
The imam said that he did not know that the cause of death.
“Whoever is responsible, then that person should be held accountable,” Wahhaj said.
A Georgia arrest warrant accused the boy’s father, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, the imam, the son of the kidnapping of the child. Authorities say the father at a certain moment told his wife that he wanted to perform an exorcism on the boy, who cannot walk and requires constant attention because of a lack of oxygen and blood flow around the time of the birth.
The father of the child was among the five adults were arrested on suspicion of child abuse in the compound after the children were discovered. In court papers, prosecutors also said Wahhaj had trained the children to carry out school shootings.
Speaking at his Brooklyn mosque, the elder Wahhaj said that his family was trying to make arrangements to have the body of the child to Georgia.
All 11 of the children, he said, either his biological grandchildren or members of his family through marriage.
“I am very concerned with the condition of my grandchildren,” he said. He said that he didn’t understand why his son had taken of the family and disappeared in the desert, but a psychiatric disorder was to blame.
“My son may be a bit extreme,” he said, but he added that he never thought that he was extreme enough to kill anyone. “High-strung,” he said.
The grandfather at the head of a mosque that has attracted radicals across the years, including a man who later helped bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993.
New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator said it was still working on the identification of the remains.
Dr. Kurt Nolte, New Mexico, chief medical investigator, said the remains “in a state of decomposition that the identification challenging.”
The remains will stay in Mexico until the agency investigation has been completed — a process that can take weeks, said office spokeswoman Alexandria Sanchez.
Taos-area district Attorney Donald Gallegos said he will await the findings on how the boy died before deciding how to proceed.
The group arrived in the desert area in December, according to the neighbors. Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said that the FBI had the place under surveillance in the last few months that the recorded images of the composition and the interviews.
He said that the images were shared with the mother of Abdul-ghani, but she did not spot her son, and the pictures never indicated the father was in the compound, leaving the sheriff without the information he needed to obtain a search warrant.
That changed when Georgia authorities received a message that may have originated within the composite that children die of hunger within, Hogrefe said.
The elder Wahhaj said the tip came to enforcement of the law by him.