Police in San Diego County Investigating Murder of Shaima Alwadi, 32, Mother of Five, As a Possible Hate Crime

Shaima Alawadi
Shaima Alwadi
While the controversy around alleged racial motivations in the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin plays out in Florida, police in El Cajon, Calif., have not ruled out anti-Islamic motivations in the brutal killing of Shaima Alwadi, a 32-year-old Iraqi immigrant and mother of five, who was found beaten and dying in her home near San Diego last week.

Alwadi was discovered early Wednesday morning by her 17-year-old daughter, Fatima, who called 911. At the hospital, Shaima Alwadi was diagnosed as brain dead, and her family chose to remove her from life support.

A handwritten note found at the crime scene described Alwadi as a “terrorist” and warned her to “go back to your own country.” Family members said they had received a similar note a few days earlier but had dismissed it as a kids’ prank.

Now the question is whether the attack and the threats were acts of domestic anti-Islamic terrorism.

According to the Los Angeles Times, El Cajon is home to the second largest enclave of Iraqi immigrants in the United States, after Dearborn, Mich. Shaima and her husband, Kassim, immigrated from Iraq to Dearborn in the mid-1990s. They had relocated to El Cajon just a few weeks before the murder.

In an interview with Al Arabiya, Kassim Alwadi said, “My wife was a victim of xenophobia.” He said that he and Shaima were both from al-Samawa, in Southern Iraq, and that they were married in a refugee camp in Saudi Arabia.

In the same interview, Hussein Alwadi, a cousin of the victim, described how family members believe the attack took place:

“I saw her body in the dinning room a few minutes before the police arrived,” her cousin told Al Arabiya.

He said the murderer snuck into the house on Wednesday morning from the back [yard].

“The [yard] has no fence so he was able to break the glass of the kitchen window right away and apparently he did so without making a noise.”

Hussein added that the attacker then reached for the window handle, opened it, and got inside.

“He did so after watching Shaima’s husband drive away with four of the children he was taking to school. Only Shaima and her eldest daughter Fatima stayed in the house. Fatima was asleep.”

The murderer, Hussein recounted, saw Shaima in the dinning room and attacked her with an iron rod or a spanner.

“He first hit her on her forehead then on her right ear. The third strike was on the back of her head. This was followed by five fast and consecutive strikes on her head and shoulders.”

Shaima, Hussein said, lost consciousness, upon which the attacker left the house.

“Because the attack was fast, the eldest daughter Fatima, who was asleep in the upper floor, did not hear a thing and only found out when she woke up and went downstairs to see her mother’s body drenched in blood.”

Police have interviewed other family members and friends of the family, both in El Cajon and Dearborn.

Investigators are not ready to label Alwadi’s death a hate crime. “Based on the evidence thus far, we believe this is an isolated incident,” El Cajon Police Chief Jim Redman said during a news conference. Police had not seen any “free-floating hostility” toward people of different ethnicities in the area, Redman said.


  • Johnny Lorenzo
    April 1, 2012 - 8:20 am | Permalink

    Remember 9/11? Where was the Muslim community at that point in time? Muslims love being in America while “us” American soldiers fight for their freedoms. We needed the Muslims to stand up against terrorism, they didnt. But, you will complain about the use of “God” in schools, Christmas icons, etc.

    So, although it is sad when people die, I say to you welcome to America, take off that stupid fucking scarf and be American.

    • April 1, 2012 - 9:15 am | Permalink

      It is a myth, actually a lie, that American Muslims did not speak out against the 9/11 attacks. In a Joint Statement by American Muslim Alliance, American Muslim Council, Association of Muslim Scientists and Engineers, Association of Muslim Social Scientists, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Islamic Medical Association of North America, Islamic Circle of North America, Islamic Society of North America, Ministry of Imam W. Deen Mohammed, Muslim American Society and Muslim Public Affairs Council, stated:

      American Muslims utterly condemn the vicious and cowardly acts of terrorism against innocent civilians. We join with all Americans in calling for the swift apprehension and punishment of the perpetrators. No political cause could ever be assisted by such immoral acts.

      You may not have seen it on Fox, but regular Americans who watch outlets other than the Republican Party’s propaganda channel were aware of it.

      But it was right-wing Republican Christians like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson who blamed Americans for the attack by al Qaeda — and it was these same religious leaders who were silent after the attacks on America by right-wing domestic terrorists like Timothy McVeigh and Eric Rudolph.

  • May 16, 2012 - 8:31 pm | Permalink

    Johnny Lorenzo your a funny character welcome to America take off your scarf and be American lol hahhaa kool just because America the land of the free welcomes everybody doesnt mean we can loose our religions and America doesnt belong to you ether jack go back you Europe thats where your from haha claiming.wer just like you European immigrant and wer immigrants too you wasnt told to loose you head for america or your rights or your relgion so go learn history jack and your fighting against terrorism syria wher you guys need to go fight you dont want causs there is no advantages there is no oil there no benefits there so let thos ppl die advantage takers is what ya are.

  • Alice Walker
    June 11, 2012 - 9:12 pm | Permalink

    johhny lorenzo, you’re the scum of the earth. i can’t imagine anyone sounding more ignorant than you do in your post.

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