Elliot Spagat, Associated Press, November 10, 2012
Eight months after the beating death of an Iraqi-American woman that drew international attention because it appeared to be a hate crime, the woman’s husband has been arrested on suspicion of her murder.
Police in the San Diego suburb of El Cajon announced the arrest Friday of Kassim Alhimidi, 48, and described the killing as an act of domestic violence.
The March killing of 32-year-old Shaima Alawadi made waves around the world after 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.”
But the case took a wholly different direction on Thursday when Alhimidi was taken into custody after being called into the police station, said El Cajon Police Chief Jim Redman, who declined to comment on the evidence or elaborate on a possible motive but said there were no other suspects.
Alhimidi went to Iraq for about two weeks to bury his wife and returned voluntarily, Redman said.
At the burial in Najaf, relatives wept uncontrollably. 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.
“The main question we would like to ask is what are you getting out of this and why did you do it?” Alhimidi said in Arabic as his 15-year-old son translated.
The killing shocked residents of El Cajon, an east San Diego suburb and home to one of the largest enclaves of Iraqi immigrants in the United States.
Police initially said the threatening note meant they had to consider the killing a possible hate crime but stressed that was only one theory. They said there was other evidence and that the slaying was an isolated case, easing concerns that other immigrants could be targets.