Police in El Cajon, Calif., are investigating a brutal attack that left an Iraqi woman dead. KNSD-TV's Chris Chan reports.
Services at an East County mosque were held Sunday to honor an El Cajon woman who was found severely beaten inside her home with a threatening note left nearby.
Friends of Shaima Alawadi, 32, remembered a warm, loving woman who was a wonderful mother to her five children.
At the same time they are anticipating more information from investigators about the suspicious death of the Iraqi immigrant who moved in to the rental home on Skyview Street two months ago.
Alawadi was found in the dining room by her 17-year-old daughter March 21. She was transported to a local trauma center and died Saturday after being on life support for three days.
A threatening note was discovered very close to where Alawadi was found officers said. The family say they received a similar note earlier this month, however did not report it to authorities.
Police would not confirm the contents of the note however a spokesperson for the local chapter of the Counsel of American-Islamic Relations said he is concerned the beating may be a hate crime.
"The body was found with a note that essentially says, 'You guys are terrorists, go back home, you don't belong here.' That's the message,"said CAIR Executive Director Hanif Mohebi.
Neighbors said the family – which includes as many as five children – moved into the rented home in El Cajon about two months ago. Alawadi and her two daughters wore headscarves, according to their neighbors.
“When you add violence against woman, the loss of life of a mother on top of that and the fact that this innocent woman may have been targeted solely because of her appearance and her set of beliefs, it’s a strike not just at the Muslim community but at the humanity for all of us here in San Diego,” said family friend Kamaal Martin.
Nazanin Wahid said Alawadi was a friend to everyone at the Islamic Center of Lakeside on Mountain View Avenue because the community is close-knit and members know each other very well.
"This place holds a very special value to them because their children grew up here and they still come here, so this is their center, our center, their community, our community," said family friend Nazanin Wahid.
Based on Alawadi’s injuries and other evidence retrieved at the scene, police said this case is being investigated as a homicide.
Sunday morning flowers were seen at the porch of the Alawadi home. A cross with the words “Give Thanks to the Lord” was also seen near the front door.
On Sunday, the family was making plans to fly Alawadi's body back to Iraq. Alawadi's father is Sayed Nabeel Alawadi, a Shiite cleric in Iraq, a Muslim leader in Michigan told the Detroit Free-Press. The Iraqi government will pay for shipping expenses of the body, he said.
Hayder Al-Zayadi, a family friend, told the Free-Press that Alawadi moved to the United States in 1993 with her family and was part of a wave of Shiite Muslim refugees who fled to Michigan after Saddam Hussein cracked down on an uprising in 1991.
After living in Dearborn for a few years, she moved to the San Diego area in 1996, graduated from high school and became a housewife raising five children, Al-Zayadi said.
Thousands of people have liked a special page on Facebook calling for "One Million Hijabs for Shaima Alawadi."
Alawadi's report has been sealed by the medical examiner per a police request.
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