El Cajon Police Mull Hate Crime Charges In Death Of Iraqi Immigrant

EL CAJON (CBS) — The body of a 32-year-old mother and Iraqi immigrant will be flown back to Iraq for burial after she died over the weekend from a fatal assault in her Southland home.

KNX 1070’s Tom Reopelle reports police on Monday were investigating the attack on Shaima Alawadi as a possible hate crime.

Alawadi was taken off life support this weekend after police said she was found severely beaten and unconscious in her dining room in El Cajon last Wednesday.

She was later determined to be brain-dead at a local hospital and eventually removed from life support systems on Saturday afternoon.

Her 17-year-old daughter discovered her mom unconscious alongside a menacing note.

“A week ago they left a letter saying, ‘This is our country, not yours, you terrorist,”, said Fatima Al Himidi. “My mom ignored that, thinking [it was] just kids playing around, pranking.”

Police would not confirm the note’s contents, but El Cajon Police spokeswoman Monica Zech said the murder is being fully investigated.

“They’re interviewing a lot of people, they’re just looking at what was going on in the family and in general, if this could have been a hate crime, if this could have been something else,” said Zech.

Local Muslim leaders said the victim’s father is a Shiite cleric in Iraq.

The beating does appear to be an “isolated incident”, although Zech noted that the family did report receiving a similarly threatening note a few days before the assault.

A growing population of Iraqi nationals have immigrated to the suburban neighborhood east of San Diego, including Alawadi, who recently moved there from Michigan with her family.

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