By Todd Bensman
December 31, 2018
This fall, the U.S. Supreme Court
essentially cemented the execution of America’s least known Islamic terrorist.
Jihadist convert Alton Nolen is now set to be put to death in Oklahoma, likely
by nitrogen gas inhalation.
The Supreme Court’s October 1, 2018
rejection of Nolen’s final death penalty appeal went unremarked upon by any
news media and so, partly as a result, even I missed it. But the Nolen case is
very much worth remembering along with all religiously motivated attacks that
occur on U.S. soil, if not just for the victims and their survivors but for
lessons that can and must be learned.
The September 24, 2014 attack in Oklahoma
is somewhat notable in the annals of many officially uncalled terrorist strikes
in that he emulated a favourite ISIS death tactic no doubt learned online: he
fully beheaded a co-worker – the very beloved wife, mother and grandmother
Colleen Hufford – inside the Moore, Oklahoma food processing plant where they
both worked. Shouting “Allah Akbar” throughout the attack, Nolen was using the
same oversized butcher knife on the neck of a second co-worker, Tracy Johnson,
when the company’s chief operations officer, a reserve law enforcement officer
named Mark Vaughn, burst in with an AR-15 rifle. He shot and wounded Nolen as
Nolen disengaged from his second victim and charged at him with the bloody
Such an attack must feel a particular
horror to its witnesses and, when Nolen is finally put to death, one should
keep in mind what Colleen Hufford must have experienced in her last moments.
Rather than to charge this attack under
federal terrorism statutes and ascribe a religious motive to it, President
Obama's U.S. Department of Justice let the local district attorney charge Nolen
under state murder statues (and as an assault and battery against survivor
Traci Johnson). The whole disgusting affair was quickly forgotten by the rest
of the nation, government and all but those involved and some locals.
But make no mistake; This was a jihadist
attack on American soil, motivated by interpretations of the Quran that are
commonly preached in Wahhabi mosques and cited by killers across the globe.
Some have argued that earmarking attacks
aggrandize and gratify the killers. There is something to be said for that. But
the Nolen attack – as well as events such as the Supreme Court’s rejection of
his appeal and, one day, the execution itself – warrants our full national
attention and should be properly memorialized until all related matters are
finally resolved, not least for any comfort doing so can still bring the
victim, survivors, and witnesses. Government acknowledgement of a repetitive
motivation for killings like this, and media treatment of it, can encourage the
nation to comfort those who were there and help them close the emotionally
important loop of knowing WHY loved ones and innocents died, who did it and for
But calling out Islamist religious
motivation for murder portends practical benefits too. It can open the throttle
on investigations that identify co-conspirators and foreign connections. Public
acknowledgement and remembrance can spur suspicious activity reporting from the
general public, which can roll up other cocked and loaded extremists before
they too kill.
Also importantly, identification of
repetitive Islamist motivation for violent acts helps homeland security
authorities look inward to determine if intelligence failures occurred.
Homeland security professionals learn from those what not to repeat and how to
fix broken processes, to reduce the chances of future law enforcement
intelligence failures, which invariably lead to funeral processions.
The Obama administration decided not to
involve itself in a prosecution under federal terrorism statutes, even though
Nolen, a prison convert to Islam, had filled his Facebook page with hideous
ISIS propaganda and openly praised the death cult’s rise to global prominence
through constant blood-letting. Nolen had just been suspended after co-workers
rejected his Islamist proselytizing and demands for religious accommodations at
the company, Vaughan Foods. This gave those already predisposed to downplay
Islamist motivations for attacks the excuse needed to suggest workplace
violence and mental illness was somehow at play, instead.
Proof of Motivation Overflowed at Trial
The 2017 trial, which received only some
highly localized Oklahoma TV news coverage, decisively showed this was neither
mental illness nor workplace tension drove Nolen to do what he did.
Taped police interviews of Nolen and other
evidence showed Nolen was motivated by Quranic scripture and the very same
well-worn extremist ideology we have seen cited for attacks across the globe,
to include the 9/11 attacks. Nolen has proven unrepentant.
On September 29, 2017, a jury rejected
defence arguments that Nolen was insane after hearing the evidence.
Right after the attack, for instance,
police asked a very calm and collected Nolen if anyone told him to behead
unbelievers. He responded that the Qur'an gave him the idea. (Qur’an 47:4
states that "When you meet the unbelievers, strike their necks.) Nolen
answered: "Uh, no. I read the Qur'an. Like I say, the Qur'an is easy to understand.
No one guides me but Allah."
When asked why he beheaded Hufford, he
answered: "I just feel like...I did what I needed to do. What Allah says
in the Qur'an to do. Oppressors don't need to be here. You know the Muslim is
somebody who submits their will to Allah...Whatever he wants done, that's what
we do...And you know he wants us to get the oppressors out of this place."
When asked if he regretted murdering
Hufford, Nolen answered: "There wasn't nothing but a trial for me. I
passed it because, like I said, I felt oppressed. I knew for sure that, if I
was to die right then, I was going to heaven." He added: "I feel, you
know, you know what I'm saying, if I was to die in five or 10 minutes, I'm
going to heaven. That's all that matters to me."
Nolen also confirmed that he screamed
“Allahu Akbar” as he beheaded Hufford.
Traci Johnson testified that she ran into
the next room after hearing screaming and saw Nolan standing over Hufford with
a bloody knife. "When I saw the defendant, I was frozen. I couldn't move.
And I saw the knife with the blood on the knife, and he made a mad dash toward
me and pushed me up against the wall and held me up with his forearm against
the wall and just started splicing my neck. He was just going back and forth
like he was just cutting a piece of meat."
The hero of this tragedy is Mark Vaughan,
then COO of Vaughan Foods and an Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office Reserve
Deputy. When the call came that a knife attack was underway, Vaughan suited up
with his weapon, ammo and first aid on a vest. Vaughan testified that he and
another employee entered the building where the attack was underway and saw
Nolen on top of Johnson. He testified that he called for Nolen to stop. Nolen
jumped up, ran around a corner and charged Vaughan at full speed. Vaughan said
he fired three rounds.
Nolen leaned against a wall and fell to the
ground. Vaughan then held Nolen at bay until police arrived and took the
Execution Date Unclear But Deserves
Right-Of-Passage National Acknowledgement and Coverage
Although Nolen’s execution warrants
national notice, no solid date was readily available. Oklahoma has been caught
up in political wrangling with death penalty opponents and shut down the
state’s supply of lethal injection drugs. Most of the state’s executions are
awaiting a resolution over state plans to start using nitrogen gas. Earlier
this year, the state announced it was working to develop a new execution
protocol making nitrogen hypoxia the preferred method.
When this is all sorted out, politically
and legally, Nolen’s turn will come and bring the state’s only possible final
resolution to this episode so we can all properly move on. And when that
resolution is at hand, I hope somehow the world finds out about it.
Todd Bensman is a Texas-based senior national security fellow for the Centre
for Immigration Studies and fellow at the Middle East Forum. For nearly a
decade, Bensman led counterterrorism-related intelligence efforts for the Texas
Intelligence and Counterterrorism Division.
Terror attacks are indeed motivated by wrong
Newageislam.com has published hundreds of articles to
refute wrong interpretations. I am presenting here some of the links of my
articles on this subject.
1. ISIS, Taliban,
Al-Qaeda and Other Islamist Terrorists are Kharijites? An Analysis of 40 Major
Characteristics of Kharijites
2. Radical ‘Salafi’
Ideology Of Zarqawi That Created ‘ISIS’: Muslims Must Reclaim Real, Spiritual
Islam And Eliminate Radicalism
3. ISIL Militants
Killing Muslims in Iraq will Taste the Hellfire
4. The Terrorist
Acts of ISIS Are Categorically Forbidden—Evidences from the Quran and Hadith
5. Refutation Of
Raymond Ibrahim’s Article Entitled ‘Islamic State Beheads, Mutilates, As The
Quran Instructs’ - Part 1: Don't Ignore The Context Of Quran's Verses Or The
6. Refutation of
Raymond Ibrahim’s Article Entitled ‘Islamic State Beheads, Mutilates, As the
Quran Instructs’ - Part 2: The Dreadful Story of Abu Jahl’s Torture of Early
7. Refutation of
Raymond Ibrahim’s Article ‘Islamic State Beheads, Mutilates, As the Quran
Instructs’ - Part 3: Associating Terrorism With Islam Is Complete Distortion Of
The Religion; Evidence from Qur’an
8. The Self-Proclaimed
‘Caliphate’ of Daesh or ‘ISIS’: A Gross Distortion of the Rightly Guided
Caliphate and Thus a Neo-Kharijite Organization
9. ISIS: The Knife
That Slaughters Islam And Muslims
Ideological Origins of ISIS; Refutation of Its Deviant Theology Alone Can
Defeat This Evil
11. Suicide Attacks By ISIS or Any Other Muslim Militants Are
Brazenly Un-Islamic and Categorically Forbidden [Haram] Under All
Circumstances: Evidence from the Quran and Hadith
12. Refuting ISIS’ Magazine ‘Rumiyah’ That Ignores the Context
of Quran's Verses To Forcefully Justify its Atrocities
13. Had The Hadith Already Asked Muslims 1400 Years Ago Not To
14. The Sixteen Quranic Verses That Counter Violent-Extremism
The following three
articles also refute ISIS
15. Did War-related Madani Verses Abrogate Makki Verses in the
Sense of Not Allowing Peaceful Coexistence between Muslims and Non-Muslims?
16. Has the Ayat, La
Ikraha fid Deen (There is No Compulsion in Religion), been Abrogated?
17. The Misunderstood
Hadith - 'I Have Been Commanded To Fight the People Until They Say There Is No
God but Allah’ - misused by terrorist ideologues and Islamophobes