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Sudden Jihad Syndrome in Oklahama halted by law-abiding gun owner

Sometimes the media thinks context is important for understanding violence; other times, not so much.

They’re already digging the memory hole for this story over at Mainstream Media headquarters, because it reads like a laboratory experiment to combine every narrative the press finds “unhelpful.”  What you’re seeing at outlets like CNN and the Associated Press is bland coverage about a man beheading a woman, without much in the way of context as to why a man would do such a thing… as if “beheading” wasn’t enough of a giveaway to any but the lowest of low-information voters.  Somehow I think we’d be getting a lot more “context,” probably right in the headlines, if Alton Nolen had been a member of the Tea Party.

It’s all just a “lone wolf” incident completely unconnected to anything else that ever happened in the history of the world, you understand, but to hear certain words mentioned, we must turn to the foreign press.  From the UK Daily Mail:

A fired employee who had been trying to convert co-workers to Islam stabbed two female colleagues – beheading one of them – before an off-duty officer shot him, police have said.

Alton Alexander Nolen, 30, was fired from Vaughan Foods, a food distribution center in Moore, Oklahoma on Thursday before returning to his car and smashing it into another vehicle.

He then climbed out and entered the building, attacking the first two people he encountered with a knife, Moore Police Sergeant Jeremy Lewis said.

After beheading Colleen Hufford, 54, and stabbing Traci Johnson, 43, multiple times, Nolen was shot by off-duty officer Mark Vaughan, who was working at the business.

Nolen survived and was hospitalized. Johnson is in stable condition in hospital.

In fact, as the name of the company suggests, Mark Vaughan is the CEO.  The local police have justly praised him as a hero.  According to some correspondence at Twitchy, Vaughan took Nolen down with a rifle.  If it turns out to be one of those eeeeevil “assault rifles,” the narrative implosion represented by this story will be complete.

On Friday, Lewis said that Nolen had been trying to convert co-workers to Islam and that local police had contacted the FBI to help investigate the man’s background, KFOR reported.

Co-workers said Nolen himself had only just converted to Islam, according to News9. It is not yet known if his beliefs played a role in the attack.

There were no immediate indications of a link to terrorism, officials said.

Sergeant Lewis added that the suspect and the victims were apparently not involved with each other outside of their work at the business.

‘The victims had no relationship to the suspect. He is just an angry employee that acted out,’ Lewis said.

“It is not yet known if his beliefs played a role in the attack?”  Come on, man.  What other beheading enthusiasts are out there?  Rabid “Highlander” fans?  I hesitate to make this point out of respect and sympathy for the victims, but let me just come right out with it: beheading someone with a knife requires sustained effort.  It’s not an entirely accidental feature of Nolen’s rampage.

It’s interesting that Nolen’s proselytizing already had him on the radar screen as a potential troublemaker.  According to Sky News, he was “convicted in 2011 of marijuana possession, intent to distribute cocaine, escape from detention, and assault on a police officer,” so clearly the guy had issues long before he grew interested in Islam (or was recruited, possibly online…?)  Sadly, workplace rampages by disturbed individuals happen with some frequency, and there’s not much the perpetrators have in common.  Still, it’s ridiculous to dismiss Nolen’s religious pursuits as entirely irrelevant to the crime, to the point of actively suppressing the detail from national news reports – especially when the media culture has been so very eager to suss out connections between violent behavior and political or cultural interests in other cases.

As for whether there were “links to terrorism,” that’s a matter for careful investigation to determine – there’s a world of difference between, say, finding downloaded jihadi snuff videos on Nolen’s computer, and establishing some sort of active two-way communication with terrorist groups.  But the confused relationship between Western politically-correct thought is highlighted by conflating the assertion that not every Muslim is prone to violence (indisputably true) with the notion that Islam has nothing to do with violence (rather obviously false, but none dare say it.)  It’s not a baffling coincidence that so many people around the world are citing the same religious code as a justification for violence.  We can certainly hope for a reformation that puts a stop to this, but pretending the problem doesn’t exist is silly, and ultimately unhelpful to the good Muslims both here and abroad that we should support.  Pretending that a tiny band of deluded fanatics is responsible for all the mayhem dangerously understates the challenge facing the moderates, and leads to people outside the Islamic world developing unrealistic expectations.  Why haven’t the moderate Muslims gotten rid of all the head-choppers and oppressors of women yet?  It should be a snap, right?  They’re just a tiny minority of extremists who somehow hijacked the Religion of Peace…

More importantly, remember: guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens save lives.  Bear that in mind the next time a celebrity with armed bodyguards claims you don’t need one.

Update: At first there were confident assertions Nolen had no contact with the local Islamic community, but after a Facebook page he created under the name “Jah’Keen Yisrael” filled with pictures of him at a local mosque surfaced, that story changed a bit.  Now he’s remembered as an odd duck who attended some prayer gatherings, as reported by The Oklahoman:

Friday, Imad Enchassi, senior imam of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, said he did not recognize Alton Nolen from photographs shown on television news, but some members of the society??s mosque told him they remember seeing Nolen at prayer gatherings at the mosque, 3815 N St. Clair.

Enchassi said the people who said they saw Nolen at the mosque said the man exhibited ??odd? behavior, such as praying differently than they are accustomed. He said members of the mosque said Nolen identified himself to them as a searcher, someone who had been seeking to connect spiritually at the mosque but also other places such as churches, synagogues and through Buddhism.

Nolen has tattooed on his abdomen ??as-salaamu alaikum,? Arabic for ??peace be with you,? according to state Corrections Department records. He has ??Jesus Christ? tattooed on his chest, ??Judah? on his left arm and praying hands on his right arm.

Corrections Department records list Nolen??s religion as ??Islam.?

Saad Mohammad, the Islamic society??s director of news and information, said law enforcement representatives contacted his mosque during their investigation Friday.

Mohammad said he remembers yelling at Nolen when the man placed his Quran on the floor with his prayer rug during a visit to the mosque. Mohammad said Muslims are prohibited from placing the Quran, Islam??s holy book, on the floor.

Mohammad said he and other people who recall seeing Nolen at the mosque remember him as being ??quiet? and ??low-key.? He said Nolen did not express violent sentiments nor did he indicate he agreed with the actions of the Islamic State terrorist group in Iraq and Syria known as ISIS.

It’s not unusual for one person attending services which draw over a thousand people to escape the notice of top leadership if he didn’t make a spectacle of himself, but the hasty “never heard of the guy” denials are a bit incongruous with the magnitude of the story.  You’d think the senior leadership would have put their heads together and worked out if anyone remembered him at all before making any statements.

Then come the denunciations of what Nolen did (good), the pre-emptive accusations of violent bigotry for “retaliation” against the mosque (bad), and the assertions that it’s crazy to think Nolen’s actions have anything whatsoever to do with Islam (sad, and totally not working, guys):

Both Mohammad and Enchassi denounced Nolen??s actions, saying his behavior is not in keeping with Islam, which they emphasized is a religion of peace.

??He is as far away from Islam as he can be,? Mohammad said.

Mohammad told The Oklahoman that leaders of the society??s mosque decided to take extra security precautions to protect Muslims who gather there from any potential retaliatory violence.

Mohammad said anti-Muslim sentiments may have could be heightened because of the beheadings and violence overseas by ISIS.

??They have this ISIS thing on their minds, and now this guy has brought it to America,? Mohammad said.

Meanwhile, on Nolen??s Facebook page, where he identified himself by a Muslim name, he posted a picture of himself outside the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City??s mosque, plus other photos inside another local mosque.

Next to a picture of the Statue of Liberty, he wrote: ??When other countries look at this woman who sits upon the water they know she is the land of the free. Land of the free means Free from God Allah … ?

Breitbart News discovered that a previous head of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City had ties to al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, and currently works for the same group of mosques in Boston that were attended by the Tsarnaev brothers.

An imam at a different mosque in Oklahoma, which does not seem to be connected with Nolen, added fears that Nolen would be slotted into a stereotype about “angry black men”:

Abdullah, who said he owns a janitorial company, also said with the recent incidents of violence perpetrated by black men in the National Football League and a violent incident involving a young black man who was set to play for the University of Oklahoma football team, images of ??angry black men? are flooding society.

He said unfortunately, with the Thursday beheading at the Vaughan Foods plant by a black man who is Muslim, people may now connect the image of the ??angry black man? with the Islamic faith.

Although early reports portrayed Nolen as a very recent convert to Islam, or even someone who was still in the “process” of converting, his high-school classmates said he converted in prison in 2011.  A local newspaper quoted at Truth Revolt also includes a second-hand account that Nolen was fired from the Vaughan Foods operation for “telling co-workers Thursday of an Islamic teaching that said women should be stoned for an offense,” which evidently led to a disruptive argument.

Update: Considering the detail that Nolen’s conversion might have begun in jail, Roger Simon of PJ Media asks, “Have our prisons become jihad factories?”

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Written By

John Hayward began his blogging career as a guest writer at Hot Air under the pen name "Doctor Zero," producing a collection of essays entitled Doctor Zero: Year One. He is a great admirer of free-market thinkers such as Arthur Laffer, Milton Friedman, and Thomas Sowell. He writes both political and cultural commentary, including book and movie reviews. An avid fan of horror and fantasy fiction, he has produced an e-book collection of short horror stories entitled Persistent Dread. John is a former staff writer for Human Events. He is a regular guest on the Rusty Humphries radio show, and has appeared on numerous other local and national radio programs, including G. Gordon Liddy, BattleLine, and Dennis Miller.

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