New Mexico Extremists Were Grooming School Shooters

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NOBLESVILLE, IN – Evacuated middle school students wait on a bus after a shooting at Noblesville West Middle School on May 25, 2018 in Noblesville, Indiana. (Photo: Kevin Moloney / Getty Images)

The raid on the New Mexico extremists is a heartbreaking crash course that speaks to the depths of the child abuse in this cult-like ideology and its rigid hate for America.

This week, Clarion Project’s Ryan Mauro’s in-depth investigation on the missing three-year-old, Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj, skimmed across major news networks, quickly becoming a national story and adding the twisted new layer of child abuse to reports of Islamist extremism in the United States.

Siraj Ibn Wahhaj — son of radical imam Siraj Wahhaj, one of America’s most prominent Islamic clerics and Linda Sarsour’s mentor — kidnapped his own child in order to exorcise him of his physical disabilities that his father attributed to demonic possession.

A search for the boy led authorities to a remote compound in New Mexico, where local police found Siraj Ibn Wahhaj heavily armed. Court documents filed stated the compound served as a training camp to teach children to commit school shootings.

Video footage shows depraved Third World conditions where the police raid also found 11 starving children and the three women believed to be their mothers. Abdul-Ghani Wahhaj was not found on the premises, but authorities fear remains of a boy found on the site might belong to Abdul-Ghani, who would have just celebrated his fourth birthday.

The boys grandfather, radical imam Siraj Wahhaj, issued a plea on Facebook earlier to find Abdul-Ghani. Yet, Imam Siraj Wahhaj has long been notorious for his anti-American rhetoric and with sermons that blended his brand of Islam with militancy. It is no surprise that his own son is also a militant extremist, with the conveyor belt of abuse now destroying his own son.

In reality, the tragic fate of Abdul-Ghani and the 11 impoverished children was spun long before they were abducted and isolated from the world. As with other extremist ideologies, it began in a home environment where their identity, carved by the head of the household, was imprinted onto them as a collective identity with no tolerance for the individual (even when an individual is suffering from a disability they are too young to understand or manage).

This is not a home but a machine, where radical interpretations of religion in this case supersede spirituality and morph into ideological indoctrination based on alienation and rage. This is where the abuse starts: in the mind.(1)

The other 11 children, groomed into school shooters, were primed for the role by first having their identity stripped. All children have the right to life, protection, play and education. Willfully denying a child (or any individual) the space to peacefully explore and express the realization of his or her true self is (or should be) a violation of fundamental human rights. Once a child’s sense of self is compromised, it is much easier to “reprogram” the child by perverting his or her moral development which naturally evolves in varying stages.

Manipulating a child with hate and militant propaganda “rewires” the brain by breaking neural pathways and creating new ones that lose the ability to feel compassion. Acts of trauma further destabilize a child’s sense of self and relationship to reality.(2) 

These types of psychological attacks on children are oftentimes difficult to detect. The effects of this may not be seen until the child or adult acts out, as is likely the case with Abdul-Ghani’s father, who himself was raised in an environment shaped by his father, Imam Siraj Wahhaj.


(1) Davies, D. (2004). Child Development: A Practitioner’s Guide. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.
(2) Siegel, D. J., MD. (1999). The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.



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Shireen Qudosi

Shireen Qudosi is Clarion Project's National Correspondent.

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