Oklahoma beheader may be first “lone-wolf” jihadist
WASHINGTON, September 27, 2014 — The brutal beheading in Oklahoma of Colleen Hufford, 54, is sending shock waves throughout America.
Authorities say Alton Nolen, recently fired from his job at Vaughn Foods, entered the distribution center in Moore, Oklahoma and stabbed Hufford in the neck, decapitating her. He was shot by Mark Vaughan, a reserve sheriff’s deputy and the company’s chief operating officer, as he stabbed and critically wounded a second woman, Traci Johnson.
Johnson is in stable condition and is expected to recover.
The knife used by Nolen was used in the plant to cut vegetables, according to NewsOK.
Local police reportedly have called in the FBI to assist in the investigation.
Sgt. Jeremy Lewis of the Moore Police Department made a public announcement, saying “This suspect was angry about some sort of incident that happened at the business. These women really had nothing to do with that. He was just acting out against them. They are the first people he came in contact with.”
According to previous arrest records, Nolen has a tattoo on his abdomen which reads, “Assalaamu Ataikum,” a Muslim greeting for “peace be upon you.” He also has a tattoo of Jesus Christ on his chest, of praying hands on his right arm, and “RIP LIL Kris, Judah” on his left arm.
Nolen recently converted to Islam, and reportedly attempted to convert several employees to the religion before he was fired.
Although there is no indication that religion motivated the attack, the high profile beheadings by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) over the last several weeks could encourage would-be jihadists to copy the repugnant behavior.
Moore Police Sgt. Jeremy Lewis said that without Vaughn’s response, the attack could have been much worse.
“This was not going to stop if he didn’t stop it. It could have gotten a lot worse,” Lewis said.
Nolen is in critical condition in a local hospital, but is expected to recover.
Court records show that Nolen had been arrested for assault and battery on a police officer and possession of a controlled substance in 2001, after a trooper attempted to arrest him on outstanding warrants. That event resulted in a twelve-hour manhunt after Nolen escaped the trooper, fleeing into a wooded area.
He was also arrested for escape from detention.
Nolen was released from the Oklahoma prison system in March 2013.
Nolen has no known links to terrorist organizations, nor does he appear to be an active member of any mosque in the area. Instead, it appears he was motivated to attack Vaughan employees to retaliate for his firing.
However, Saad Mohammad, director director of news and information for the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, told NewsOK.com that mosque leaders are on alert. They are taking security precautions to protect area Muslims against potential anti-Muslim sentiments could increase following Nolen’s actions.
“They have this ISIS thing on their minds and now this guy has brought it to America,” Mohammad said.
Copy-cat criminals often mimic the actions of other, high profile criminals. The widespread attention ISIS has received for beheading innocents suggests that Nolen is only the first violent criminal to use repugnant methodology to carry out attacks.