The mother of a backpacker killed in an Australian hostel wrote an open letter to U.S. President Donald Trump Tuesday, rejecting his decision to label her daughter’s death as a “terror attack.”
Rosie Ayliffe’s daughter, 20-year-old Mia Ayliffe-Chung, was killed during a knife attack in August 2016. Her alleged killer, Smail Ayad shouted “Allahu akbar” — an Arabic phrase meaning “God is great” — during the attack. However, authorities said there was no indication the assault was motivated by extremism.
Police said they were investigating whether the 29-year-old suspect, who was hospitalized in October under a preliminary diagnosis of schizophrenia, was obsessed with Ayliffe-Chung.
Tom Jackson, 30, was also killed during the attack, after reportedly trying to save Ayliffe-Chung.
On Monday, the attack was included in a list of 78 incidents the White House claimed to have been “executed or inspired by” the Islamic State terror group. The list was compiled by officials in Trump’s administration to support the president’s allegations that the media is under-reporting terror incidents overseas.
In an open letter addressed to the president, Ayliffe-Chung’s mother condemned the administration’s use of her daughter’s murder on the list, stating, “My daughter’s death will not be used to further this insane persecution of innocent people.”
“Any fool can shout ‘Allahu akbar’ as they commit a crime,” Rosie Ayliffe wrote. “This vilification of whole nation states and their people based on religion is a terrifying reminder of the horror that can ensue when we allow ourselves to be led by ignorant people into darkness and hatred.”
“My daughter was a migrant worker, and like migrant workers the world over she was treated as a disposable commodity,” she said in the article.
“So Trump is right: there is a connection between my daughter and those travellers he wants to strip of their humanity and dignity in airports around the United States. But it’s not the connection he would wish to make.”
Other attacks included on the list were the Brussels bombings in March, the San Bernardino, Calif., shootings in December 2015, and the Paris attacks in November 2015.
The White House did not point to any examples supporting Trump’s contention that terrorist attacks were “not even being reported.” Fewer than half of the 78 incidents the White House listed occurred in Europe.
— With files from Global News reporter Nicole Bogart