11 emaciated children are rescued from a filthy and heavily armed compound

Father arrested for abduction; son still missing

It was not immediately known Monday whether Wahhaj and the others charged in the child abuse case in New Mexico -another man and three women believed to be the mother of the 11 children - had retained attorneys.

Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said officers found deplorable living conditions for the children.

"I believed this would most likely be the path that we would take and stand by my original decision to bring charges after CYFD [Children, Youth and Families Department] investigators had an opportunity to conduct their independent investigation, which included interviews and obtaining information such as health and medical needs of the children from the three mothers", Hogrefe said in a statement issued late Sunday.

A message pleading for food and water has led United States police to rescue 11 malnourished children held captive in New Mexico.

Morten, just like Wahhaj, would eventually be accused of child abuse at the New Mexico compound.

Siraj Wahhaj and Jany Leveille are also said to be married.

Federal Bureau of Investigation recently provided the sheriff's office with surveillance on the location, but said there wasn't enough probable cause to obtain a search warrant for the property. She declined to comment on the relationship between Imam Wahhaj and the man arrested Friday.

The sheriff's office says suspects Siraj Wahhaj and Lucas Morten initially refused to cooperate with deputies, with Wahhaj heavily armed.

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"We all gave the kids our water and what snacks we had - it was the saddest living conditions and poverty I have seen", Hogrefe said. They had been involved in a vehicle accident on 13 December, and indicated to the responding officer that they were on their way to New Mexico for a camping trip.

The group appeared to have been living at the compound for a few months.

The sheriff's office said Wahhaj was wanted for the child abduction of 3-year-old AG Wahhaj. Wahhaj is now being held without bond on a warrant out of Georgia for the child abduction charge.

The boy's mother told police her child, who she said suffered from seizures along with development and cognitive delays, went to the park with his father Mr Wahhaj last December and never returned.

After getting a search warrant late last week, officers raided the compound in Amalia, New Mexico, and found the children, aged between one and 15, so starved that they looked like "refugees".

The authorities had their eye on the compound for two months, but they could not find probable cause to storm the place until they received the message that people were malnourished.

The sheriff's office announced the charges Sunday following a months-long investigation into Ibn Wahhaj, who investigators say had kidnapped his 3-year-old son, from almost 1,500 miles away, in Jonesboro, Ga.

Eight members of TCSO's Sheriff's Response Team and the State OSI Unit executed a search warrant on the compound on Friday after a message that was forwarded to the office by a Georgia detective.

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