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Mother of backpacker slain in Australia criticizes Trump

At the time of the slaying, police probed the theory Smail Ayad may have been infatuated with Mia. [photo: The Sun —UK]

LONDON (AP) — The mother of a backpacker slain in an Australian hostel wrote an open letter to U.S. President Donald Trump, rejecting the decision to label her daughter's death as a terror attack.

The August slayings of Mia Ayliffe-Chung, 20, and fellow Briton Tom Jackson, 30, were on a list of 78 attacks the White House says were "executed or inspired by" the Islamic State terror group — and under-reported by the media.

Rosie Ayliffe says the possibility of terrorism was discounted early in the investigation.

"My daughter's death will not be used to further this insane persecution of innocent people," she wrote.

Police in Australia allege that suspect Smail Ayad shouted "Allahu akbar" — an Arabic phrase meaning "God is great" — during the attack, but said there was no indication the assault was motivated by extremism. They have said they are investigating whether Ayad, who is French and was 29 years old at the time of killing, had a romantic obsession with Ayliffe-Chung.

Ayad's lawyer told a court in October that her client had been given a preliminary diagnosis of schizophrenia. The case has been referred to the Queensland state Mental Health Court, which determines whether a person is competent to stand trial.

The attack took place in front of dozens of backpackers at a hostel in northern Queensland. Ayliffe-Chung was found dead at the scene. Jackson tried to stop the attack and was fatally wounded.

"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," Ayliffe wrote.