27 Children freed from living in Muslim leader’s underground catacomb ‘caliphate’

Children freed from living in underground hive: Russian police find 27 children in rogue Muslim leader’s catacomb ‘caliphate’

Russian police recently freed 27 children and 38 adults living in an underground, eight-story compound constructed by a rogue Muslim leader who thought God wanted him to build his own caliphate beneath the earth.

Faizrakhman Satarov, the 83-year-old self-proclaimed prophet, began digging under a house on a 7.500-square-foot lot in a suburb of the large regional city of Kazan roughly ten years ago, and soon created a web of tiny cells with no light, heating, or ventilation, according to the Associated Press.

The children — many of whom were born in the ‘hive’ — were kept underground for most of their lives and not permitted to attend school or visit doctors, officials told the newswire.

The minors, ages 1 to 17 years, have been placed in care or in area hospitals, according to the BBC.

‘‘They looked nourished but dirty, so we had to wash them,” pediatrician Tatyana Moroz told Russian TV, according to the AP.

But the AP also quoted a parent of one of the children, who expressed concern over their welfare, telling local TV that outside doctors now ‘‘can do anything to them.”

Residents of Satarov’s isolationist sect, known as Faizrakhmanists, called themselves “muammin,” Arabic for ‘‘believers,’’ and shunned the rest of the world, with only a few members permitted to work as traders in a local market.

Even in the face of the raid and the fact that their leader has been charged with negligence according to the AP, a number of adults defended their home — built illegally and slated for destruction by authorities — in local media.

‘‘They will come with bulldozers and guns, but they will have to demolish this house over our dead bodies!’’ sect member Gumer Ganiyev is quoted as saying on the Vesti television channel.

Saratov and his followers have been harshly condemned by Muslim leaders in the region, who say the man broke with a fundamental understanding of their religion.

"Islam postulates that there are no other prophets after Muhammad," a theologian in Kazan, Rais Suleimanov, told the BBC.