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FBI joins case of Iraqi woman's slaying; hate crime possible

March 26, 2012 |  1:36 pm

 El Cajon police on Monday said a hate crime is one of several possibilities in the case of Shaima Alawadi, the Iraqi mother of five who was beaten to death in her home.

At a news conference on Monday, police said the FBI was assisting in the case but provided few details about the investigation. There is no "person of interest" in the case at this time, police said.

Near the body of the 32-year-old Alawadi, police found what has been described as a threatening note. Police have declined to release the text, but relatives and friends say the handwritten note warned Alawadi to "go back to your own country" and labeled her a terrorist.

The family told police they had received a similarly threatening note several days earlier but considered it a prank by teenagers.

Alawadi was found unconscious Wednesday morning in the dining room of the family's home by her 17-year-old daughter. She was taken to a hospital, where she was diagnosed as brain-dead. Her family decided on Saturday to discontinue life support.

Police said that whatever the motive, the attack appears to be "an isolated event," not part of an overall pattern of violence toward immigrants.

"We're investigating all aspects of this crime," Lt. Mark Coit said Sunday. "The minute you rule out a possible motive, you start to get tunnel vision. As of now, we have not ruled out any of the motives for why people kill people."

Coit said police are unsure about what kind of weapon was used but that Alawadi was beaten with a large object.

Alawadi and her husband had moved to El Cajon from a Detroit suburb several weeks ago. The two areas are considered the most popular destinations for Iraqi immigrants to the United States.

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--Tony Perry in San Diego and Shelby Grad

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