Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj (pictured), age 3, died as a result of medical neglect by five of his family members. Their compound also housed 11 related children, ages 1 to 15, who were malnourished and neglected. The children were homeschooled.
Abdul-Ghani, who had hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, was the child of Siraj Wahhaj and Hakima Ramzi of Jonesboro, Georgia. After a trip to Saudi Arabia in 2017, Wahhaj decided he wanted to stop giving Abdul-Ghani his seizure medication and use prayer to treat his illness instead. In November 2017, Wahhaj abducted Abdul-Ghani and took him to a remote area in New Mexico where he established a compound with his second wife Jany Leveille, his sisters Hujrah and Subhanah Wahhaj, his brother-in-law Lucas Morton, and the women’s 11 other children. According to the grandfather of some of the children, “they were homeschooled and the adults moved them to the compound because society wouldn’t accept their Islamic religion.”
“The compound consisted of one small trailer buried in the ground and covered by plastic with no water, plumbing or electricity.” The children were malnourished and filthy, and they later reported the adults had trained them to use firearms in order to attack government institutions. Instead of giving Abdul-Ghani his medication, Wahhaj and his family members “would read verses from the Quran over the boy to rid him of evil spirits.” Abdul-Ghani died December 24, 2017 and the family buried him in a crawlspace, reportedly believing he would come back to life.
The abuse came to light when a family member called the authorities in August 2018 to report that the family was starving. Authorities raided the compound and found Abdul-Ghani’s remains. Wahhaj and Leveille were charged with child abuse, “but after prosecutors missed a deadline to provide a preliminary examination, the cases were dropped” and federal weapons and terrorism charges were soon filed.
Date: August 3, 2018
Location: Amalia, Taos County, New Mexico
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