A three-year-old boy found buried at a makeshift home in New Mexico died in a ritual to “cast out demonic spirits”, prosecutors have said.
The child’s body was found in a tunnel at a compound north of Taos after police raided it on 3 August.
It is claimed his extended family believed he would “return as Jesus” to identify “corrupt” targets for them to attack.
Eleven other children, ranging in age from one to 15, were found starving and dressed in rags and were taken into protective custody, authorities said.
The children had been given weapons training “in furtherance of a conspiracy to commit school shootings”, prosecutors have said.
Two men and three women, all related as siblings or by marriage, have each been charged with 11 counts of felony child abuse.
They are the three-year-old’s father, Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, and his wife, Jany Leveille, his brother-in-law and sister, Lucas Morton and Subhannah Wahhaj, and a second sister, Hujrah Wahhaj.
Their home was held together using old tires and wooden pallets.
There are no charges as yet in relation to the toddler’s death.
Prosecutor John Lovelace said the three-year-old, Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, died during “a religious ritual” intended to “cast out demonic spirits”.
FBI special agent Travis Taylor said that according to Ibn Wahhaj’s 15-year-old son, one of the adults told him the spirit of the dead three-year-old would return “as Jesus” to direct the group in carrying out violent attacks.
Prospective targets included “the financial system, law enforcement, the education system”, Mr Taylor said.
Abdul-Ghani died after his father put his hand on the boy’s head and recited verses from the Koran, Mr Taylor added.
Prosecutors said the five adults should be kept in jail, but following a four-hour detention hearing, District Judge Sarah Backus said she was unconvinced they posed a danger to the community.
She set bail at $20,000 (£15,600) for each of them and said they must wear ankle monitors and have weekly contact with their lawyers.
Defence lawyers claimed prosecutors were trying to criminalise their clients for being African-Americans and Muslim.
“If these people were white and Christian, nobody would bat an eye over the idea of faith healing, or praying over a body or touching a body and quoting scripture,” lawyer Thomas Clark told reporters.
Ibn Wahhaj, 39, has also been charged with abducting Abdul-Ghani from his mother’s home in Atlanta in December.
Mr Clark said he would remain in custody.
From – SkyNews