Testimony in a trial in Taos County, New Mexico, has shed light on the circumstances surrounding the death of 3-year-old Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj at a remote desert encampment in December 2017. The trial centers on accusations of kidnapping and terrorism against Abdul-Ghani’s father, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, and three other family members, including two aunts. The defendants were charged following a raid on the squalid compound in August 2018, where the boy had been taken from Georgia without his mother’s permission.
During the trial, prosecutors presented evidence that Siraj Ibn Wahhaj and his partner, Jany Leveille, performed prayer rituals on Abdul-Ghani and the other children, believing that evil spirits were causing the boy’s ailments. The child’s death occurred during one of these rituals, with no attempts made to seek medical help. The body was later found wrapped in plastic and placed under a bed in the trailer where the family was living.
The trial also revealed that the group had been living in dire conditions, with no running water and limited access to food. The encampment was surrounded by berms of tires and had an adjacent shooting range where guns and ammunition were seized. The prosecution argued that the defendants had conspired to commit offenses against the United States and had trained for a potential armed conflict.
The trial continues, with defense attorneys challenging the terrorism charges and arguing that the family’s efforts to secure shelter in a harsh environment were being misrepresented. Two other children who lived at the compound are expected to testify.