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Entries in Iraqi (3)

Thursday
Apr052012

Iraqi Hate Crime Murder Probe Raises Questions About Daughter, Husband

ABC News(EL CAJON, Calif.) -- Police investigating the murder of an Iraqi mother in southern California, initially thought to be a hate crime, have filed papers with a court that suggest the mother had a difficult relationship with her daughter and her husband.

The beating death last month of Shaima Alawadi, 32, of El Cajon, shook the Iraqi-American community when her family reported that a note was found next to Alawadi's body, reportedly saying "go back to your own country, you terrorist."

Alawadi's 17-year-old daughter, Fatima, told police that a similar note had been found a week prior to the murder, but the mother thought of it as a joke and threw it away. Court documents now show that the note was a copy of an original, and the earlier note has never been seen.

The family, including Fatima and Alawadi's husband, are now in Iraq, where they went for Alawadi's burial.

According to court documents obtained by ABC News affiliate KGTV, the daughter received a text message while she was being interviewed by investigators that read, "The detective will find out tell them cnt (can't) talk."

Fatima, who was reportedly the only one home with her mother when the attack happened, had a troubled relationship with her mother, the documents show. In November, police had contacted Alawadi after finding Fatima having sex with a 21-year-old man in a parked car. Alawadi had picked her daughter up from the scene, but Fatima then jumped out of her mother's car going 35 mph, the documents state.

Fatima was also distraught over her pending arranged marriage to a cousin, according to the documents.

The investigation into Alawadi's death revealed that a neighbor reported seeing a dark-skinned teenager or 20-something man running away from Alawadi's house around the time of her death, carrying a donut-shaped cardboard box. Police searched the home of the man Fatima was found having sex with months earlier, and took items from his home as part of the investigation, according to the U-T San Diego newspaper.

Alawadi was also planning to divorce her husband, according to a search warrant in the case. Divorce papers were found in Alawadi's car, and a relative told police Alawadi was planning to divorce husband Kassim Alhimidi and move to join her mother and siblings in Texas.

In January, Alawadi had contacted the El Cajon police department to report her daughter Fatima missing, but cancelled the report two hours later after locating her daughter, according to U-T San Diego.

Fatima was the most outspoken member of the family in the wake of Alawadi's death, telling police and reporters that she found her mother bloodied and with head wounds around 11:15 a.m. on March 21. Fatima told police she had been upstairs, and heard her mother squeal before hearing glass break 10 seconds later. When she discovered her mother was wounded, she called 911.

"You're an animal, you're not even an animal," Fatima yelled into a news camera shortly after her mother's beating, addressing her mother's killer. "You took my mother away from me, you took my best friend away from me. Why? Why did you do it, that's all I want to know.  Answer me that."

Alawadi's husband had taken the couple's other children to school earlier that morning, according to police, although the U-T San Diego reported Wednesday that his whereabouts had not yet been confirmed.

The autopsy of Alawadi's body showed that the beating was "extremely violent" and included at least six hits to the head, with at least four skull fractures, according to the newspaper report. Autopsy records noted that the injuries may have been caused by an object similar to a tire iron.

Though the police said they would look into the possibility of whether the murder was a hate crime, they quickly assured the Iraqi community in El Cajon that the killing was seemingly an isolated incident and that no residents had any reason to believe they were in danger.

The family traveled to Baghdad, Iraq, where Alwadi's father is a Shia cleric, last week. Phone calls to the El Cajon police department about the family's plans to return to the U.S. were not immediately returned.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Mar272012

Iraqi Mom's Murder an 'Isolated Incident'

Comstock/Thinkstock(EL CAJON, Calif.) -- Despite a hate-filled note found at the murder scene of an Iraqi mother in California, police Tuesday are emphasizing that other evidence found during the investigation has them convinced the killing was an isolated incident that poses no danger to other Iraqis.

Police in El Cajon, Calif., said they will still look into whether the murder of 32-year-old Shaima Alawadi could be classified a hate crime, but Police Chief James Redman said that "based on the evidence thus far, we believe this is an isolated incident."

The beating death of the Iraqi mother of five sent shockwaves through the community of El Cajon, which has one of the largest concentrations of Iraqi immigrants in America. Twitter and Facebook users created hashtags and pages in Alawadi's honor, comparing the targeting of Alawadi for wearing a hijab to that of Florida teen Trayvon Martin for wearing a hooded sweatshirt. Police, however, have not said that Alawadi was targeted for wearing a hijab.

"I want to stress there is other evidence in this case that we are looking at, and the possibility of a hate crime is just one of the aspects of this investigation," Redman said Tuesday.

Nazanin Wahid, a friend of Alawadi's family who is acting as the family spokeswoman, said Tuesday that the family is in the midst of the traditional Iraqi three-day mourning process, and is waiting to hear more about the investigation from police.

"It's been suggested that there was a hate crime, but until the evidence is more clear, we can't jump to conclusions either," Wahid said. "It could be an isolated event. Who knows what it could be?"

The beating was first reported last Wednesday when Alawadi's daughter contacted police around 11:15 a.m. to report finding her mother in a pool of blood with head injuries, police Lt. Mark Coit told ABC News.

Alawadi's daughter told local news station KUSI that she found a note next to her mother that read, in part, "go back to your own country, you terrorists." Police would not confirm the contents of the note, though a fingerprint was reportedly found on the note, according to ABC affiliate KOGO.

Alawadi's family told police that they had received a note similar to the one left at the murder scene a week earlier, but Alawadi had laughed it off as a prank and did not report it to police. The family did not have the note to show police, Coit said.

Alawadi was taken off life suport on Saturday and died shortly thereafter.

According to police, Alawadi's husband had left the house earlier that day to take their younger children to school. The police have conducted interviews with all of the family members, Coit said.

The FBI is assisting El Cajon police in the investigation.

The tight-knit immigrant community has been shaken by the incident, Wahid said.

"I think so many of us are scared, so you look for community," she said. "Kids are asking questions, mothers and daughters are being scared. What does this mean for our women, our people?"

A neighbor, contacted by ABC News, said the area where Alawadi lived was very quiet, and neighbors were surprised to find out about the beating. She said that neighbors had not noticed anything out of the ordinary in the days leading up to the attack or on the morning of the beating.

The Center for American Islamic Relations in nearby San Diego said the community has dealt with hate crimes in the past, but not the beating death of a woman in her own home.

Hanif Mohebi, executive director of the center, said that if the murder turned out to be hate crime, he would not be entirely surprised.

"Would it surprise me? That's a very good question. It will not. It's unfortunate, but I have to say this. We do not expect it to be of this nature, beating someone to death, but if it is a hate crime, we have to be pretty honest with ourselves about the reality we're facing."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb222011

Muslim Man Guilty of 'Honor Killing' in Daughter's Death

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(PHOENIX) -- An Iraqi immigrant was found guilty of second-degree murder Tuesday for running over his daughter, a crime motivated, prosecutors said, by the Arizona Muslim man's belief that the 20-year-old woman had become "too Westernized."

Faleh Hassan Almaleki, 48, was also convicted of aggravated assault, because the mother of his daughter's boyfriend was also injured when he ran down the two women with his Jeep Cherokee in a suburban Phoenix parking lot in the October 2009 incident.

Almaleki, who fled immediately after the incident, driving to Nogales, Mexico, was also convicted of two counts of leaving the scene of an accident.

The Iraqi man's lawyer had argued that he never intended to hit his daughter, Noor Almaleki, or 43-year-old Amal Khalef, whose family the young woman was living with at the time because of her disagreements with her father.

"I'm not trying to kill my daughter," Faleh Hassan Almaleki told investigators, according to tapes that were played during the trial. "If anything happened, accident."

Almaleki insisted to police that he loved his daughter, but he lost control of the vehicle and it was an accident.

But while he maintained that he didn't mean to kill her, he did tell the officers questioning him that he wanted to scare his daughter and maybe even hurt her when he drove the Cherokee at her.

According to prosecutors, Almaleki and his daughter fought over her adoption of Western ways, including her decision to attend college, her rejection of an arranged marriage and her choosing a boyfriend her parents did not approve of.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio