Eleven children who were rescued from a compound in New Mexico on Friday where they were being held by their ‘Muslim extremist’ parents were discovered after a message was somehow sent to the outside pleading for help.
The children are aged between one and 15. Some are siblings and some are cousins.
They had been held underground at a ramshackle compound in Alamia, New Mexico, for months.
The FBI was monitoring the site for two months but never searched it because they did not have an arrest warrant, Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said on Monday.
On Friday, however, the sheriff’s office intercepted a message that was written either by one of the children or by one of their mothers which read: ‘We are starving and we need food and water.’
Authorities will not say how the message was delivered or who gave it to them but Sheriff Hogrefe said it meant he could not wait any longer for federal authorities to move in on the site.
He enlisted a special forces team to lead the raid because he knew the men inside were heavily armed, he added.
The children were being held there by 39-year-old Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, an imam’s son from New York City who has been missing since December when he abducted his three-year-old special needs son from Georgia.
It was this abduction which triggered the FBI investigation.
On Friday, Wahhaj was found in the compound with an AR-15 rifle, five magazines loaded with 30 rounds and four loaded pistols.