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 it is. 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 little alternatives in society. He certainly became more convinced that he understood the tenants on Islam over the past year. That said, this does not appear to be an attack conducted in accordance with the 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 see a string of justifications for his actions based on the treatment of Muslims blaming the American government. 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, this probably falls well short of what we should consider a terrorist attack.
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 roughly ten 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 (an all Black College in Oklahoma) 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 a few gaps, 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 from Idiot to English – 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. There is another gap during which he was incarcerated and on August 23, 2011, he claims (in the same grammar and spelling consistent with the complete lack of education 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.
Alton Nolan was simply a grossly uneducated product of the prison system who found Islam as means of coping with his incarceration. Religion is quite frequently the last refuge of a scoundrel. He has no apparent goals in life save self gratification and displays no real concern in any of his posts for anything other than his plight or his personal opinions. He is simply an ignorant, somewhat arrogant narcissist.
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 revisionism 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 pro-Muslim tone, and 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 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, and 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, somewhere was working with him. 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 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. His inability to intellectually make sound judgments, and desperation to be a part of something make him highly susceptible to suggestion. 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. His final public post is on September 23 warns about masturbation and it being a sin.
Once terminated from his job, Mr. Nolan was likely to act out. He chose to act out against two women, as that was the focus of his recent fixation as part of his pursuit support of the Islamic faith as he understood it. He chose to behead Colleen quite likely because of the attention given the recent actions of ISIS and his interpretation that is how Muslims punish the guilty. What we have here appears to be a criminal act influenced by a grossly ignorant interpretation of Islam.
As indicated earlier, Alton Nolan is exactly the type of person ISIS and Muslim terrorist organizations are trying to recruit for their lone wolf attacks. He is uneducated and therefore incapable of discerning a logical argument from a fanciful one. He is on the outskirts of mainstream society, desperate for acceptance and susceptible to suggestion. He has limited social options, and can easily be sucked into a cell like structure and segregated from the rest of society. In this case however, they probably got to him too late to make him an effective tool in their strategy.
Alton Nolan was not a terrorist yet, in my opinion he was simply a murderer. Certainly the culture of violence that surrounds segments of Islam played a significant role in his behavior. That is what we need to focus on eradicating. There are simply elements of Islam that are incompatible with basic humanity, and although those same references exist in many religions, it is Islamists that frequently act on them. You can find more on the extremist culture of Islam in the article Is ISIS the future of Islam?
Patrick Henry – President and Firearm Trainer
Patrick Henry received his operational training and experience from the U. S. Government, 22 years of which were spent in the Marine Corps where he served in the Reconnaissance, Infantry and Intelligence fields. During his active service, he spent more then seven years deployed overseas in combat, operational and training assignments. After the military, Pat worked as a contractor and as the Director of Operations at a private paramilitary company, specializing in training special operations forces and providing protective services to select private clients. His education consists of an MBA from the University of Southern California (USC), and a BS from San Diego State University with an emphasis in Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology and a minor in Psychology. He holds an extensive list of security and training related certifications from a variety of government and nationally recognized entities. He currently sits on the advisory committee at USC’s Master of Veterans Business Program, and is an active member of Infraguard and the American Society of Industrial Security (ASIS). He has been a guest speaker at ASIS, the San Diego Industrial Security Awareness Council and other private organizations on physical security, travel security, and competitive intelligence collection counter-measures.