“I’m not your friend. My friends are at the mosque all around the world,” wrote Alton Nolen (shown) on his Facebook Page, under the name of Jah’Keem Yisrael. Employees at the Vaughn Foods processing plant in Moore, Oklahoma, would certainly agree with that, after 30-year-old Nolen, aka Jah’Keem Yisrael, used a knife to decapitate employee Colleen Hufford on Thursday, September 25.
Apparently inspired by recent beheadings of Americans and other Westerners in the Middle East, Nolen reacted to his firing by beheading Hufford. While such barbarism is appalling, it is no longer surprising in places such as Iraq and Syria. But this occurred in the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore, which has made national news in the past for tornadoes — not terrorism.
Moore Police Department spokesman Sgt. Jeremy Lewis delivered the grisly details.
Initial investigation shows that Alton Nolen, who was an employee at Vaughn Foods was terminated and became angry. Nolen went to the parking lot, then drove his vehicle to the front of the business, where he hit another vehicle. Nolen then entered the main entrance into the front office. Nolen encountered Hufford with a knife. During the attack, Nolen severed the victim’s head.
The attack upon Hufford appears to have been a random encounter. Nolen then proceeded to stab a second victim, Traci Johnson. Johnson received several stab wounds, but before Nolen had the opportunity to behead her, too, the chief operating officer of Vaughn Foods, Mark Vaughn, prevented a second killing with several shots from a rifle. Johnson was taken to OU Medical Center along with Nolen, where both were said to be in stable condition on Friday.
Vaughn is also a reserve deputy in Oklahoma County, just north of Moore.
Nolen has a criminal past, having been convicted in 2011 of multiple felony drug offenses, assault and battery on a policeman, and escape from detention. He was released from prison in March 2013, and recently converted to Islam. While he had an Arabic phrase meaning “peace be with you” tattooed on his abdomen, he also had “Jesus Christ” tattooed on his chest, and “Judah” on his left arm.
In recent weeks, Nolen had made aggressive efforts to convert his co-workers to Islam.
On his Facebook page, Nolen appears to be challenging the words of the Apostle Paul in First Thessalonians 4:16-17, which described the resurrection of “the dead in Christ,” and the catching up of living Christians to “meet the Lord in the air.” Nolen said on the post that those who “will rise from the dead” will be those who died in faith as “servants of Allah.” Nolen argued that “the ones who died in sin will remain in their graves” because they are already in Hell.
On July 24, Nolen posted — along with a picture of the Batman villain, the Joker — that America should help Gaza against Israel. “I upload this pik because America and Israel are wicked. Wake up Muslims!!!" he exhorted. In August, he posted a photo of himself with two “brothers” from Morocco at the mosque in Oklahoma City.
One would think that living in Oklahoma, in the heartland of America, one would be safe from such murderous Islamic fanaticism. Yet, some still have lingering doubts that the Murrah bombing in Oklahoma City was free from Islamic terrorism. While Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols remain the only two persons convicted for the April 19, 1995 bombing, the federal grand jury that indicted McVeigh and Nichols expressed the belief that there were “others unknown.” Some evidence, such as Nichols’ trip to the Philippines for an unexplained purpose, seems to point to a possible connection of McVeigh and Nichols to Islamists. Nichols came back from the Philippines, which had a large and active Islamic terrorist community, with a marked increase in knowledge on how to build a fertilizer bomb.
Immediately south of Moore in Norman, University of Oklahoma student Joel Henry Hinrichs III walked into Ellison’s Feed Store on September 28, 2005, and attempted to buy 1,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate fertilizer. Owner Ellison refused to sell him any fertilizer, but a few days later Hinrichs blew himself up outside the OU football stadium, during the contest between the Sooners and the Kansas State Wildcats. While OU President David Boren insisted that the explosion was simply the act of a person with “personal problems,” unconnected to Islamic terrorism, certain facts Boren chose not to discuss raised questions.
Several witnesses claimed to have seen Hinrichs attempting to get into the game, and being turned away because he refused to allow a search of his backpack. He was apparently sitting on a bench near George Lynn Cross Hall on the Van Vleet (South) Oval, about 200 yards west of Oklahoma’s Memorial Stadium and over 80,000 spectators when the bomb exploded, throwing half of his body to around 30 yards from the stadium’s entrance. The chief ingredient in the bomb used was that used in the Oklahoma City Murrah bombing, the July 2005 London bombings, and that used by the so-called Shoe Bomber, Richard Reid.
It is logical to conclude that if Hinrichs simply chose to kill himself in an act of depression, a bomb near a crowd of over 80,000 would not be the way to do it. Had he waited until the next morning, the area of the campus near the football stadium would have been mostly deserted.
According to Senior Editor William F. Jasper’s article in The New American on October 31, 2005, police found Islamic jihad literature, as well as 1,000 pounds of explosives in the apartment of Hinrichs, which he shared with Pakistani student Fazal M. Cheema. Cheema told authorities that he did not know Hinrichs was making bombs in the apartment. Soon afterward, Cheema disappeared. Hinrichs’ Parkview Apartments were less than a block away from the same mosque that had been attended by 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and other members of al-Qaeda’s Norman cell. Hinrichs had also attended the mosque, and had taken to growing a “Muslim-style” beard. Moussaoui took flight training at the Airman Flight School in Norman from February to May of 2001. Mohammed Atta, the leader of the 19 hijackers, visited Moussaoui during this time.
The mosque has recently expanded to a larger and more modern facility along Lindsey Street on the east side of the OU campus, across from the OU Duck Pond.
Oklahoma State Representative John Bennett, a Republican from Sallisaw, caused something of a stir in the Sooner State recently when he addressed a political gathering at a Sallisaw steak house, and said, “Islam is not a religion. Islam is a socio-political system that uses a deity to advance its agenda of global conquest.”
“A Muslim is a person who is guided by the constitution of Islam,” Bennett claimed. “More than 90 percent of the Quran is about violence.” Bennett reportedly concluded by charging that Muslims are a “cancer that must be cast out of the American society,” but he later said that he had never said “Muslims are a cancer,” but rather Islam is a cancer.
Regarding Nolen, his actions were his own, and he has no connection to the Murrah bombing, the 9/11 attacks, or the explosion outside the OU football stadium. Regarding Muslims in general, many reject the violence of the extremists and also have a very different interpretation of the Quran.
In fact, many Western Muslims around the world are insisting that Islamic State extremists don't speak for their religion and are rallying against extremism.
So what should be done to protect ourselves from terrorism in particular or crime in general?
Perhaps the tragic episode in Moore is instructive. “We had officers on the scene very quick,” Sergeant Lewis of the Moore police department said. “The attack, it didn’t go on a long time. I do know that in our response, we were there within minutes of the initial call.” But while the police are to be commended for their quick response, it is a fact that many times, crime victims need help immediately — help that can be provided only by themselves or others already at the scene or close by when the crime is being committed.
Had it not been for Mark Vaughn and his rifle, at least one more person would have died, and perhaps many more. Vaughn fired multiple times, and stopped the perpetrator. “This was not going to stop if he [Nolen] didn’t stop it,” Sgt. Lewis noted. “He [Vaughn] is obviously a hero in this situation. It’s very tragic that someone did lose their life, but it could have gotten a lot worse. This guy was definitely not going to stop. He didn’t stop until he was shot.”
Had Vaughn’s constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms been denied, as we have seen happen in nations such as Australia and Great Britain, not only would Nolen’s murderous rampage have continued, but perhaps Vaughn himself would have faced decapitation.
The right of a citizen such as Vaughn to keep and bear arms will not stop all acts of violence, but it will make us safer and reduce the loss of innocent life, regardless of the motivation of the perpetrators. In the case of the recent Moore incident, the exercise of this right did stop Nolen; it did save at least one life and possibly many more. And it will do much more of the same in the future.
Photo of Alton Nolen: AP Images