Workplace Violence or Terrorism?
Alton Nolen is the man accused of beheading 54-year-old Colleen Hufford at Vaughn Foods. By accused we mean shot by the CEO (who is also a reserve Oklahoma County Deputy) as he was in the process of stabbing a second victim. He had recently been fired from a separate Vaughn foods store in the local area. The initial classification of the crime is as a workplace violence incident, which certainly this was a violent act committed in a workplace. The question American society is debating is was it terrorism? The local police have requested the assistance of the FBI due his relatively recent conversion to Islam, but officially we have yet to call this a terrorist act.
Alton Nolan is exactly the type of person ISIS and Muslim terrorist recruiting efforts are focused on. He is grossly uneducated. This lack of education makes him incapable of discerning a logical argument from a fanciful one. He is on the outskirts of mainstream society (due to his extensive criminal past) and therefore desperate for acceptance. He is exploitable, as he has few alternatives in society. He certainly became more convinced that he understood the tenants of Islam over the past year. Although, this act does not appear to be an attack conducted in accordance with the type of campaign of terror ISIS or Al-Qaeda, or their affiliates are pursuing.
What we see here the combination of a semi-radicalized Muslim and an angry black man lashing out at anything and everything on which he can blame his problems. Were he acting in support of terrorist objectives we would likely see a string of justifications for his based on the treatment of Muslims and blaming the American or western governments for their plight. Instead what we see is a man acting largely in response to his termination from his employment. While his method certainly goes beyond what we typically see in workplace violence incidents, in and of it self method should not ultimately be the determining factor in the classification of this crime.
Who is Alton Nolan
Mr. Nolan served time in the Oklahoma Prison system for drug and assault charges. While in prison in 2011 (convicted after a few arrests over the previous five years), he converted to Islam and began referring to himself as Jah’Keem Yisrael. His Facebook page claims he graduated from high school in 2003, and Langford University in 2007 with a degree in Business Management. There is no evidence he attended, let alone graduated from Langston or any other university. He posted a photo “Tooken by Shariece Pettiss at LU – 2009” (SIC) as his opening photo to his Facebook page, which is now listed under the name of Jah’Keem Yisrael.
There are several gaps in his public timeline, however he is “JST GETN OFF WRK..FINST 2 HEAD 2 DA BEL TO SEE DIS PRETTY LIL GURL SHAWTY SAY IZ MINE…1 DWN 1 TO GO LOL” which means, in my best translation to english that he is going to meet a woman and her child whom she claims is his daughter. Throughout 2010 we see a number of religious posts referring to the lord blessing him. Of note he indicates his mother attends church weekly. The next large gap is during his incarceration from which he returned on August 23, 2011. He claims (in the same grammar and spelling consistent with the gross lack of education and reasoning he has displayed in nearly all of his posts) that he has been released from prison and is going to the halfway house. Throughout 2012 and part of 2013, his posts consist of relatively innocuous and irrelevant commentary on work and football.
His last post without reference to Allah was made on April 16, 2013. “Feel Like Lil Wayne Wish I Kld Fuk EveryGurl N DA World If Thinkin Bout Her Beautiness And Is A Sin Then Lrd Why Mke So Pretty Of Gurlz lol Yung Kuntry Niccccca!!!!” (SIC). The approximate translation is “I want to sleep with pretty girls because god made them pretty and I don’t understand why that is a sin”. He follows that up later with acknowledgement that the referenced behavior may in fact be considered a sin after some commentary by the few people who appear to interact with him. Alton Nolan appear in mid 2013 to simply be a grossly uneducated product of the prison system who found Islam as means of coping with his incarceration.
Was he a radicalized Muslim?
From April 28, 2013, his post frequently reference Allah, the appropriate or inappropriate behavior standards for women, and some significant historical revisionist theories about the Moor’s, the presidency, and plight of the black man in America. On October 31, he made his first post denigrating Christians and other religions, and from this point forward, his posts start to take a much more militant Muslim tone. They begin to focus on racism referencing out of context historical references to neo-Nazi’s, Jews and Whites. He consistently attempts to make a historical connection to blacks as the “True Jews” and indicates their suffering was due to their abandonment of Islam.
The bulk of his posts are at this point typical of a Malcolm X style interpretation of Islam, where the white man is evil and is the root of all oppression of the black man. In 2014, his posts become more frequent and, anti any religion save Islam. He seems fixed on converting Christians. Interestingly enough his spelling and grammar have improved significantly between 2013 and his final posts. That would indicate to me that someone was attempting to provide him with at least a rudimentary grasp of the english language. His posts start to take on a more international flavor and his historical misinterpretations start to appear to be a combination of southern prison system Islam with a sprinkling of Middle Eastern extremism.
In February 2014, he begins to end all his post with a signature “****InfoFromAMuslim****”. His photos all contain the skullcap and beard commonly associated with conservative Islam at this point. Despite his frequent racial posts, it would appear he claims to have guided a white youth to the Islamic faith on May 30. In addition, his lifestyle and posts begin to take a more eastern theological approach to Islam. Throughout Ramadan (a Muslim holy period), he appears to be proud of his adherence to Islamic principles of fasting and has posted photos of himself at a social outing and at a mosque with Moroccan Muslims.
Why Behead Colleen Hufford
Undoubtedly, his exposure to international Muslims would have peaked his interest in the events in Syria, Iraq and around the world. He is reported to have fascination with the recent beheading videos produced by ISIS. His inability to intellectually make sound judgments, and desperation to be a part of something make him highly susceptible to radicalization. Beginning in July and August he begins to post quite frequently about the misdeeds (as he see’s it) of women. Early in September he begins to reference Muslims requirements to “do their work” to “avoid hell” and referenced “Jihad”. His final public post is on September 23 warns about masturbation and it being a sin.
The trigger for Alton Nolan’s act was termination from his job. He chose to act out against two women. Women seem to be a frequent fixation in all of his post, but their transgressions against his interpretation of Islam had increased dramatically in recent months. He chose to behead Colleen Hufford quite likely because of the attention given to the recent actions of ISIS and his interpretation that is how Muslims punish the guilty. Undoubtedly his actions were influenced by terrorists – but there appears to be no link to trigger or purpose of his actions in terrorism.
While Alton Nolan is exactly the type of person ISIS and Muslim terrorist organizations are trying to recruit for their lone wolf attacks, he probably acted with out specific guidance in this case. While his lack of education, frequent impulsive criminal past, and limited social options, make him a likely target for recruitment, he would have been given a higher purpose. There would be claims of responsibility, and blame at the “Anti-Muslim” world. In the absence of this, calling this act terrorism would be counter productive to dealing with the issue of terrorism.
Alton Nolan was not a terrorist yet, he is simply a gruesome murderer. Certainly the culture of violence that surrounds segments of Islam played a significant role in his behavior. That cultural element of Islam is what we need to focus on eradicating. There are entrenched elements of Islam that are incompatible with basic humanity, and although those same violent references exist in many religions, it is Islamists that frequently act on them. Alton Nolan appears to have impulsively action out against the society that rejected him, not acted in a means to gain acceptance or further the cause of a terrorist organization. You can find more on the extremist culture of Islam in the article Is ISIS the future of Islam?
~ Patrick Henry
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