Iraqi-American woman slain in US is buried in Iraq

Mar 31, 2012, 5:31 PM

Associated Press

NAJAF, Iraq (AP) – An Iraqi-American woman found bludgeoned to death in her California home last week with a threatening note left beside her body was buried in her native Iraq on Saturday. Family members wept uncontrollably by her graveside and her father asked God to exact revenge on those responsible for her death.

A relative called on Iraq’s government to take quick action to press U.S. authorities to reveal the results of the investigation into the killing of Iraqi-born Shaima Alawadi.

A 32-year-old mother of five, Alawadi was found unconscious by her daughter Fatima, 17, in the dining room of the family’s home in El Cajon, one of America’s largest enclaves of Iraqi immigrants. Three days later, she was taken off life support.

No suspects have been identified or apprehended so far. California police have said the note had led investigators to regard the killing as a possible hate crime. Her daughter told a local TV station it read, “Go back to your country, you terrorist.”

The family brought Alawadi’s body from the U.S. to the Shiite holy city of Najaf, south of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, Saturday on a plane sent by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

From the Najaf airport, two police cars escorted a pickup truck carrying the casket, draped in an Iraqi flag, to the “Valley of Peace,” a large cemetery where many Shiites prefer to bury their dead. The cemetery is located close to the tomb of Imam Ali, a cousin of Islam’s seventh century Prophet Muhammad and founder of the Shiite faith.

Mourners offered a prayer for Alawadi’s soul at the tomb’s mosque before they took her body into the cemetery for burial.

Relatives, including women clad in black, wept uncontrollably as they watched the burial. Alawadi’s husband, Kassim Alhimidi, and daughter fainted as the body was lowered into the grave.

“Oh God, take revenge on those responsible,” Alawadi’s father, Nabil Alawadi, screamed in anguish. “We are shocked by this criminal act against my daughter who called for love and tolerance.”

Haidar Alawadi, a relative, said the family was “totally surprised at the attitude of the Iraqi government,” which he said has not taken any action in the case. “What we want is the truth about this ugly crime,” he said.

But al-Maliki’s media adviser, Ali al-Moussawi, told The Associated Press there was not much the government could do beyond urging U.S. authorities to “take every step needed to achieve justice, especially if this is related to hate crimes.”

“Such crimes must be stopped,” he added. “We have full trust in the U.S. justice system.”

The victim and her family left Iraq in the early 1990s after a failed Shiite uprising against Saddam Hussein, who was ousted by a U.S.-led invasion in 2003. The family lived in refugee camps in neighboring Saudi Arabia before going to the United States. Saddam’s troops had hanged Alawadi’s uncle.

The family arrived in the Detroit area in 1993 and later moved to San Diego. Shaima Alawadi was a religious Shiite Muslim who wore a hijab and volunteered at the local mosque.

El Cajon police have declined to confirm the contents of the note but say it has led investigators to regard the killing as a possible hate crime. Chief James Redman said Monday there was other evidence and called the killing an isolated incident.

The FBI, which is assisting El Cajon police in the investigation, defines a hate crime as an offense motivated by a bias against race, religion, ethnicity, disability or sexual orientation.


Juhi reported from Baghdad. Associated Press writer Sameer N. Yacoub contributed to this report.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

World News

(Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images for BoF VOICES)...
Associated Press

Vivienne Westwood, influential fashion maverick, dies at 81

Vivienne Westwood, an influential fashion maverick who played a key role in the punk movement, died Thursday at 81.
1 month ago
FILE - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during his first Cabinet meeting flanked by his ...
Associated Press

Rishi Sunak: UK’s ex-Treasury chief gets his shot at PM job

LONDON (AP) — Rishi Sunak ran for Britain’s top job and lost. Then he got another shot — and the chance to say “I told you so.” The former U.K. Treasury chief was runner-up to Liz Truss in the contest to replace the scandal-plagued Boris Johnson as Conservative Party leader and prime minister. But Truss […]
3 months ago
Britain's Prime Minister Liz Truss addresses the media in Downing Street in London, Thursday, Oct. ...
Associated Press

Truss quits, but UK’s political and economic turmoil persist

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Liz Truss quit Thursday after a tumultuous and historically brief term marred by economic policies that roiled financial markets and a rebellion in her political party that obliterated her authority. After just 45 days in office, Truss became the third Conservative prime minister to be toppled in as many […]
3 months ago
People receive medical treatment at the scene of Russian shelling, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Oct. 1...
Associated Press

Russia unleashes biggest attacks in Ukraine in months

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia retaliated Monday for an attack on a critical bridge by unleashing its most widespread strikes against Ukraine in months, a lethal barrage that smashed civilian targets, knocked out power and water, shattered buildings and killed at least 14 people. Ukraine’s Emergency Service said nearly 100 people were wounded in the […]
4 months ago
This illustration made available by Johns Hopkins APL and NASA depicts NASA's DART probe, upper rig...
Associated Press

NASA spacecraft smashes into asteroid for defense test

A NASA spacecraft rammed an asteroid at blistering speed Monday in an unprecedented dress rehearsal for the day a killer rock menaces Earth.
4 months ago
Associated Press

At least 9 killed as Iran protests over woman’s death spread

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Clashes between Iranian security forces and protesters angry over the death of a 22-year-old woman in police custody have killed at least nine people since the violence erupted over the weekend, according to a tally Thursday by The Associated Press. The scope of Iran’s ongoing unrest, the worst in […]
4 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

Celebrate 50 years of Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade magic!

Since its first production in the early 1970s, the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe has been a staple of Valley traditions, bringing family fun and excitement to downtown Phoenix.
(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
Iraqi-American woman slain in US is buried in Iraq