Husband arrested in Iraqi woman’s murder

Kassim Alhimidi wipes away tears after a memorial in March for his wife, Shaima Alawadi, at the Islamic Center of Lakeside. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

EL CAJON, Calif. — An Iraqi man whose wife was fatally beaten in their East County home last spring in what initially appeared to be a hate crime was jailed Friday on suspicion of murdering her.

El Cajon police arrested Kassim Irzoqi Alhimidi, 48, on Thursday, according to jail records. He was being held without bail pending arraignment, scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.

Shaima Alawadi, 32, the mother of five children, was found beaten severely March 21 and died three days later.

Alhimidi’s wife, 32-year-old Shaima Alawadi, was found mortally wounded in their Skyview Street residence on March 21. A threatening note had been left “very close” to where she lay, Lt. Mark Coit said.

Police have declined to reveal the contents of the message, but the couple’s 17-year-old daughter, Fatima, told reporters it read, in part, “go back to your country, you terrorist.” Alawadi, a homemaker and mother of five, died of head injuries in a hospital three days later.

The grieving teen told news crews her mother had been bludgeoned with a tire iron.

From the outset of their investigation into the slaying, police said they considered ethnic animosity only one of the possible motives.

Alawadi, who left her native country with her husband in 1991 to avoid running afoul of dictator Saddam Hussein, apparently had been planning to get a divorce and move with her children to Texas, where members of her family live, her brother told U-T San Diego.

At a March 27 memorial attended by religious dignitaries, dozens of mourners and a representative of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Alawadi’s seemingly distraught spouse called on anyone with information about the deadly assault to come forward.

“If anyone knows anything about the murder, please don’t be shy, and pass information to authorities,” Alhimidi said in Arabic, with his youngest son, Mohammed, 15, translating his statements into English. “The main question we would like to ask is: Why did you do it, and what are you getting out of this?”

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