• Friend request helped lead to whereabouts of NM desert compound, man says

    By: Mark Winne

    Updated:

    CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. - A local man said a Facebook friend request led to the rescue of 11 children living on a desert compound in deplorable conditions in New Mexico.

    Abdur Rashid al Amin said he is trained in the counseling arena and peer support. 

    He told Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne that he used those interviewing skills to learn key information that ultimately led to the rescue of those children from the desert compound. 

    “I just wanted to do the right thing, you know? That’s it. It’s not about the adults, it’s about the children,” al Amin said. “I just wanted the truth to come out.”

    Al Amin said he knew Siraj ibn Wahhaj and his young son Abdul-ghani had seemingly disappeared months ago, leaving Wahhaj's wife, and Abdul-ghani's mother, Hakima Ramzi, desperately working with police to find them.

    He said that the whereabouts of Wahhaj's sisters, Subjanna and Hujrah Wahhaj, was also a mystery.

    Then, around July 31, al Amin told Winne that he got a Facebook friend request from Subjanna's account.


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    “I accepted the friend request. I was very aware that there was a lot of concern about them missing and the children as well. And so, then she in-boxed me,” al Amin said.

    He said messages from Subjanna's Facebook messenger basically asked him to swear their communications would be secret.

    “There are two types of deceptions in Islam that we are allowed to use. One is for strategy and the other one is to please your wife,” al Amin said.

    He told Winne that Subjanna first asked for money, but then that turned to food, giving the impression they had fallen on hard times.

    Finally, al Amin said Subjanna’s message stated they were starving.

    “She asked could I put together a food package,” al Amin said. 

    He told Winne that he worked hard to elicit a specific location to which the food could be sent and got a gas and grocery store address.

    Al Amin said he reached out to a relative of the Wahhaj siblings' father, the prominent Imam Siraj Wahhaj, and she put him in contact with the Imam and a Clayton County police detective. 

    They then relayed the information to authorities in New Mexico, leading to the rescue of the children.

    “I felt overjoyed, but I still had a sense of apprehension because I knew that they had not found Abdul-ghani,” al Amin said. 

    Authorities suspect human remains discovered in the compound are those of Abdul-ghani. They have not positively identified the remains. 

    “My heart just dropped,” al Amin said.

    Court records show Hujrah, Subjanna and Siraj Wahhaj have plead not guilty to child abuse charges. 

    A judge’s order dated Tuesday suggested no charges have been filed by the state regarding the child who died, saying “no evidence was presented to the court regarding the child’s cause of death.”

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