A self-proclaimed prophet had a vision from God: He would build an Islamic caliphate under the earth.
The digging began about a decade ago, and 70 followers moved into an eight-level subterranean honeycomb of cramped cells with no light, heat or ventilation.
Children were born. They, too, lived in the cold underground cells for many years — until authorities raided the compound last week and freed 27 sons and daughters of the sect.
Ages 1 to 17, the children rarely saw the light of day and had never left the property, attended school or been seen by a doctor, officials said Wednesday. Their parents — sect members who call themselves “muammin,” from the Arabic for “believers” — were charged with child abuse.
Tip: @RickAlanRoss on Twitter
Police raided the house Friday as part of an investigation into the killing of a Muslim cleric, an attack local officials blame on radical Islamist groups.
That’s no way to live; you can’t isolate yourself from the real world literally or through religion. The children were checked by doctors and are temporarily housed in an orphanage. One can only imagine their current state of confusion.
UPDATE (15-Aug-2012): Something is fishy. The Washington Post reports that there were serious problems with this claim.
A brief visit inside the compound, which provided shocking headlines around the world when police raided it and seized the children, revealed none of the elaborate underground design described by prosecutors. Nor does a police video showing rooms inside. The father of a cult member, who originally disapproved of his daughter joining the group, said he was able to visit freely and has no complaints about how members live or treat their children.
The conflicting portrayals raise questions about whether authorities may have exaggerated the eccentricity of the sect, perhaps in an effort to show they are cracking down on radical Islamic groups.
Very interesting development. Sect leaders are enraged at the accusation and that the children were taken.
Tip for update: @RickAlanRoss on Twitter
As always, we welcome your corrections to any stories. We post them as they appear in the news but update with new info as it becomes available.