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Remains are missing boy's

Forensic investigators said Thursday they identified the remains of a Georgia boy whose father is accused of abducting him and performing purification rituals on the child as he died at a remote New Mexico desert compound. The cause of the child's death remained unknown.

The body of Abdul-ghani Wahhaj was found Aug. 6 in an underground tunnel. It was so severely decomposed that investigators could not yet determine how the severely disabled boy reported missing in December had died, New Mexico's Office of the Medical Ivestigator said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for the office said it will be examining both the body and where the remains were located to seek to determine a cause and manner of death. A prosecutor said no charges regarding the death are imminent because officials don't yet know how the boy died.

"All we have is a positive ID," Donald Gallegos, the district attorney for Taos County in northern New Mexico, said in an interview. "We'll need something else, actual cause of death, manner of death."

Authorities have said they believe Abdul-ghani died in February, when he was 3.

The boy's father, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, was among five people arrested on suspicion of child abuse at the compound near the Colorado state line, where authorities say 11 hungry children were found living in filth during a raid earlier this month. A search a few days later turned up the body in a tunnel.

Prosecutors seeking to keep Sirah Ibn Wahhaj and four members of his extended family behind bars said in court on Monday that he had been training some children at the compound to use firearms and carry out attacks on an anti-government mission that might target schools.

An FBI agent, citing interviews with two children from the compound, said Abdul-ghani died as relatives performed a ritual on the boy to cast out demonic spirits while reading from the Qur’an.

State District Court Judge Sarah Backus on Monday said the evidence provided by prosecutors was troubling but did not indicate any clear threat to public safety from the defendants, who have no criminal records.

She admonished prosecutors for apparently expecting her to take the defendants' Muslim faith into account in her decision.

Defence attorneys disputed accusations of neglect and said guns on the property were legally owned.

The judge's order cleared the way for the release of three defendants — two women and one man — on house arrest with ankle monitors.



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