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msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 3/25/2012 4:54:35 AM ET 2012-03-25T08:54:35

A 32-year-old woman from Iraq who was found severely beaten next to a threatening note saying "go back to your country" died on Saturday.

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Shaima Alawadi's 17-year-old daughter found her unconscious in a pool of blood Wednesday morning in the dining room of the house in El Cajon, police Lt. Steve Shakowski said.

"(They) took my mother away from me ... took my best friend away from me. Why?" the victim's daughter Fatima Al Himidi told KUSI-TV. She added that her mother had been beaten on the head with a tire iron.

Hanif Mohebi, the director of the San Diego chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said he met with Alawadi’s family members Saturday morning and was told the mother of five was taken off life support around 3 p.m.

"The family is in shock at the moment. They’re still trying to deal with what happened," Mohebi said.

Mohebi said the family had been in the United States since the mid-1990s.

Al Himidi told KUSI-TV her mother had been beaten on the head repeatedly with a tire iron, and that the note said "go back to your country, you terrorist."

Police Lt. Mark Coit said a threatening note was discovered "very close to where the victim was found," but he did not disclose other details of the note. The family said they had found a similar note earlier this month but did not report it to authorities, Coit said.

Coit said the attack appeared to be an isolated incident.

“A hate crime is one of the possibilities and we will be looking at that. We don’t want to focus on only one issue and miss something else.”

Sura Alzaidy, a family friend, told UT San Diego the note told the family to “go back to your own country. You’re a terrorist.”

Alzaidy said the attack apparently occurred after the father took the younger children to school. Alzaidy told the newspaper the family is from Iraq, and that Alawadi is a "respectful modest muhajiba," meaning she wears the traditional hijab, a head scarf.

The family had lived in the house in San Diego County for only a few weeks, after moving from Michigan, Alzaidy said. Alzaidy told the newspaper her father and Alawadi's husband had previously worked together in San Diego as private contractors for the U.S. Army, serving as cultural advisers to train soldiers who were going to be deployed to the Middle East.

El Cajon, northeast of downtown San Diego, is home to some 40,000 Iraqi immigrants, the second largest such community in the U.S. after Detroit.

This article includes reporting by The Associated Press and Reuters.

© 2013 msnbc.com

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