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Mother: White House using daughter's death to "promote Islamic hate"

LONDON -- A woman in England is chiding the White House for including the attack that left her 20-year-old daughter dead on its list of purportedly under-reported terrorist attacks.

The list, released Monday in an effort to provide evidence for President Trump’s assertion that the U.S. media is deliberately not covering acts of terrorism by Islamic extremists, includes the August 2016 fatal stabbing in Queensland, Australia of Mia Ayliffe-Chung.

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CBS News did cover -- in some cases heavily but at least to some extent -- more than 74 percent of the attacks on the White House’s list, including a post on CBSNews.com about the attack in Australia soon after it happened. In that post, it was noted that the perpetrator (whose identity had not been confirmed at the time) reportedly shouted “God is great,” in Arabic, during the attack.

The story also noted that, according to the Queensland police, the 29-year-old suspect did not have any known links to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and appeared to have acted alone.

Asked again about the incident on Tuesday, the Queensland Police issued a statement stating clearly that the attack was not determined to have been an act of terrorism.

“We are confident he acted alone and had no known local connections. The crimes were not about race or religion, but individual criminal behaviour,” the police said.

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Rosie Ayliffe (left) attends a memorial service for her daughter, Mia Ayliffe-Chung, at St Mary’s Church in Wirksworth, Derbyshire, England, Sept. 23, 2016. Mia Ayliffe-Chung, a British backpacker, was murdered in Australia. AP/PA Wire

Smail Ayad, a 29-year-old French national was charged with two counts of murder, one count of attempted murder and four counts of serious assault of police and obstructing police for killing Ayliffe-Chung and her friend, also a British national.

In a phone interview with CBS News on Tuesday, the victim’s mother, Rosie Ayliffe, said she was deeply distressed by the White House’s use of her daughter’s death to defend what she called the Trump administration’s vilification of Islamic people.

“For my daughter’s death to be used in this way was the final straw,” she told CBS News. “I didn’t want Mia’s death to be used to promote Islamic hate.”

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Mia Ayliffe-Chung, a British woman killed while traveling in Queensland, Australia, in Aug. 2016, is seen in an undated photo provided by her family. Courtesy Rosie Ayliffe

“Anyone who knows me knows that this is very close to my heart,” added Ayliffe. “I have only experienced the benevolence and good of the Islamic people. I can’t bear that those people are vilified in this way.”

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The mother’s remarks to CBS News echoed those she posted in an open letter on her Facebook page, in which she said, “My daughter’s death will not be used to further this insane persecution of innocent people.”

The Trump administration also cited some of the major attacks carried out by actual adherents of ISIS during the two year period and suggested they had not been given the attention they deserve.

Reporting Tuesday for “CBS This Morning,” chief White House correspondent Major Garrett said White House officials knew the events were covered by the media, and they knew the accusation would lead news organizations to remind their audiences of the events -- thereby distracting attention from the president’s legal woes with his immigration order.

CBS News’ Isabelle Marking contributed to this report.

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