Death of Shaima Alawadi

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The death of Shaima Alawadi took place on March 21, 2012 in El Cajon, California in Greater San Diego. Alawadi was a 32-year-old American citizen who had emigrated from Iraq in the early 1990s.[1] She was beaten to death in her home. Although her death was initially seen as a hate crime,[2] her 48-year-old husband was eventually charged with killing her.[3]


Alawadi's family fled Iraq after Saddam Hussein's government suppressed Shiite uprisings, and settled in Detroit in 1993. They moved to San Diego in 1996.[4] Alawadi, a housewife who volunteered at the local mosque, had five children; her husband and brothers worked for the U.S. Army training soldiers who were to be deployed to the Middle East.[5]


Alawadi's 17-year-old daughter Fatima found her unconscious, having been brutally beaten, on the floor of their dining room the day of the murder. Next to her was a note which read "Go back to your country, you terrorist;"[4][5] the sliding glass door was smashed. A similar note had allegedly been left a week earlier; although police were not able to immediately determine whether or not the murder was a hate crime, the note led them to consider the possibility.[6] The cause of Alawadi's death was determined to be severe head trauma. Her family took her off life support on March 24, and her body was flown to Iraq for burial.[5]

Aftermath and investigation[edit]

Some activists and commentators compared the crime to the shooting of Trayvon Martin that had taken place less than a month earlier. The hoodie that Martin was wearing was said to feed into racial profiling that led an armed civilian to shoot the unarmed teenager; Alawadi's hijab was similarly said to have marked her as Muslim to the person who murdered her.[6][7]

As the investigation, in which the local police were assisted by the FBI, developed, records were accidentally released to the press which indicated that Alawadi was thinking of filing for divorce and moving. This and other family issues (including her daughter's refusal to proceed with an arranged marriage) led the police to consider the possibility that the murder was not a hate crime.[8][9]

Kassim Alhimidi, the husband of Shaima Alawadi, was arrested on the evening of November 8, 2012 and charged in her death, according to San Diego County jail records.[10] Alhimidi was ordered held without bail, and pleaded not guilty to Alawadi's murder.[11] The trial has been delayed until March 2014, while defense attorneys look through evidence.[12]


  1. ^ Warikoo, Niraj (March 25, 2012). "Muslim woman from Michigan beaten to death in California home". Detroit Free Press. 
  2. ^ Mary Slosson (March 31, 2012). "Iraqi-American murder highlights anti-Muslim hate crimes". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved January 18, 2013. 
  3. ^ Kari Huus (November 9, 2012). "Police: Shaima Alawadi's death was domestic violence not hate crime, arrest husband". NBC News. Retrieved January 18, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "Body of brutally beaten woman to be flown to Iraq". Associated Press. March 26, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c Spagat, Elliot (March 26, 2012). "Chief: No conclusions in Iraqi-American death case". Associated Press. 
  6. ^ a b Tartar, Andre (March 25, 2012). "Tragic Beating Death of Shaima Alawadi Feeds into Trayvon Martin Race Debate". New York Magazine. 
  7. ^ Flock, Elizabeth (March 27, 2012). "Trayvon Martin case, Iraqi woman’s death spark ‘hoodies and hijab’ rally". Washington Post. 
  8. ^ Davis, Kristina (April 4, 2012). "Records hint Iraqi woman’s death not a hate crime". San Diego Union-Tribune. 
  9. ^ Flaccus, Gillian; Watson, Julie (April 6, 2012). "Court Papers Shed New Light on Iraqi Beating Death". Associated Press. 
  10. ^ Perry, Tony (November 9, 2012). "Husband of slain Iraqi immigrant arrested in El Cajon in her death". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 18, 2012. 
  11. ^ Crimesider Staff (November 14, 2012). "Shaima Alawadi Murder: Iraqi-American woman's husband pleads not guilty in her beating death". CBS News. Retrieved January 18, 2013. 
  12. ^ Stickney, R. (November 7, 2013). "No Blood Evidence in Shaima Alawadi Murder: Defense". KNSD (NBCUniversal Media, LLC). Retrieved November 8, 2013. 

Further reading[edit]