Saturday, February 17, 2018

Husband held in killing of Iraqi-American woman

EL CAJON, Calif. — The husband of an Iraqi-American woman whose beating death initially appeared to be a hate crime was arrested on suspicion of murder in what police described Friday as an act of domestic violence.

The killing of 32-year-old Shaima Alawadi drew international attention in March when the couple's 17-year-old daughter told reporters that she found a note by her mother's bludgeoned body that read: "Go back to your country, you terrorist."

Kassim Alhimidi, 48, was taken into custody Thursday after being called into the police station, said El Cajon Police Chief Jim Redman.

Police said there were no other suspects. Redman declined to comment on the evidence or elaborate on a possible motive.

"Criminal investigations build, evidence builds, and you reach a point where you have enough evidence to move forward, and that's what happened in this case," he said.

Alhimidi went to Iraq for about two weeks to bury his wife and returned voluntarily, Redman said. Police did not try to prevent him from leaving the country because he was not a suspect at the time.

At the burial in Najaf, Alhimidi and the 17-year-old daughter, Fatima, fainted as the body was lowered into the grave.

Kassim Alhimidi was publicly silent for six days after the body was found, while his children spoke often with reporters. In his first public remarks — made at a news conference at the family's mosque in Lakeside — he demanded to know what motivated the killer.

Charges against Alhimidi were expected to be filed Tuesday.

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