ATLANTA (AP) — The body of a young boy, whose remains were discovered at a ramshackle desert compound in New Mexico, was buried Thursday in his home state of Georgia.
It took just a few minutes for men to lower Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj’s body — wrapped in white cloth — into a grave behind a mosque on the city’s southside, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported .
The child’s mother told the newspaper she took comfort in the thought that one day she would meet her son again in paradise.
Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, would have turned 4 earlier this month, was reported missing in December. His father, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, had said he was taking the child to a park, but never returned. Instead, prosecutors said, he brought his son to live on a compound in Taos County, New Mexico.
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Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, 40, and four other adults were arrested after an Aug. 3 raid on the secluded desert compound in northern New Mexico. The adults were charged with child abuse because 11 children were found living in squalor.
More charges could be filed after authorities determine how Abdul-Ghani died.
The child’s casket was flown Wednesday from Albuquerque to Atlanta, KOB-TV reported .
Prosecutors believe the child may have died because, rather than give him seizure medicine, the dad performed rituals to rid him of evil spirits, The Journal-Constitution reported.
It was a tragic end to a life of struggle. In his very first moments of life, oxygen was slow getting to his brain, which caused brain damage and hampered his health, leading to seizures, cognitive and developmental delays.
Mother Hakima Ramzi, according to family, doted over him and accepted him as he was.
“I have met no one more loving to Abdul-Ghani than Hakima,” the child’s grandfather, the famous imam also named Siraj Wahhaj, said during the funeral at Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam, looking toward the child’s mother. “But Hakima, as much as you love Abdul-Ghani, Allah loves him more.”
The child’s father, by some accounts, tried to fix Abdul-Ghani. Before Wahhaj went into the desert with several adult relatives and 12 of their children, at least one friend heard the man speaking of trying to rid the child of a “curse.”
Authorities looking for the child raided the compound Aug. 3, arresting the adults on child cruelty charges and taking custody of the 11 children found living there in filth. From some of the kids, police say they learned Abdul-Ghani spit up during the rituals, which involved the dad reading from the Quran and placing a hand on the boy’s head. The children reported Abdul-Ghani finally stopped breathing during one of them.
His body was wrapped in a sheet and placed in a tunnel. Authorities recovered the body on Aug. 6, his 4th birthday.
Ramzi thanked the other mourners as they buried her child.
“I know my baby is in a high place,” she told The Journal-Constitution. “So I feel peace in my heart.”
Information from: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, http://www.ajc.com