On Wednesday, 17-year-old Fatima Al Himidi returned home to find her mother lying in a pool of her own blood in the living room of their Southern California home. There was clear evidence of a break-in outside. She had been attacked with a tire iron. Beside Shaima Alawadi’s unconscious body was what investigators deemed a xenophobic note, calling the woman a terrorist.
Al Himidi says this isn’t the first time they’ve received such a note. A few weeks prior, she remembers seeing a note posted outside the family’s home, reading “This is our country, not yours, you terrorists.” Thinking the note was a prank in poor taste, Alawadi decided not to report it to the police. (Maybe the note writer has been watching a little too much Fox News.) Al Himidi described the scene in this heart-wrenching interview for local news station KUSI:
Alawadi was hospitalized for several days following the attack, but was taken off life support on Saturday. The 32-year-old left behind her husband and five children. She had immigrated to the U.S. from Iraq nearly 20 years ago, in search of a better life.
Nothing was stolen from the home at the time of the assault. That, combined with the disturbing notes, has spurred police to investigate the murder as a hate crime. So far, police believe the case to be an isolated incident. For the sake of Alawadi’s family and friends, let’s hope that’s the case.
Photo credit: norhafydzah mahfodz