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Was the Oklahoma beheading America’s First ISIS-Inspired Attack?

Was Muslim convert Alton Nolen, who allegedly beheaded co-worker Colleen Hufford and stabbed another woman in Oklahoma on Sept. 25, inspired by ISIS, the Islamist group that rules large parts of Syria and Iraq? (ISIS is also known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, ISIL, Islamic State, and Da`esh.)

Law enforcement and the media have, as usual, distanced the attack from Islam and terrorism, implying the alleged crime is an example of “workplace violence” due to Nolen’s recent firing from Vaughan Foods.

But co-workers report Nolen had a history of attempting to convert them to the Muslim faith. Law enforcement officials have not yet revealed if this was a contributing factor in Nolen’s termination. In addition, Robin Marsh of KWTV-9 reports that Nolen was “shouting Islamic phrases” while attacking his victims.

It is Nolen himself, however, who provides the best initial evidence that radical Islam in general and ISIS in particular motivated his alleged murder a fellow worker, evidence worth documenting in some detail. Though limited information is currently available, we are able to learn about Nolen in his own words and posted photographs on social media and use these as a basis to understand his beliefs and speculate about his motives.

After his conversion to Islam, Nolen posted on Facebook (under the name Jah’Keem Yisrael) his support for Islamist causes, including images celebrating Osama bin Laden and the attack on the World Trade Center. He also specifically promoted ISIS.

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For a larger view click on the image.

In February 2014, Nolen enthused about “Some of my Muslim Brothers!!!!!” and posted a time-stamped picture showing ISIS terrorists, above. The relatively obscure photograph is dated February 16, was shared on ISIS Internet forums on February 16, and was posted by Nolen on the very same day, implying he closely followed ISIS online. The picture features Omar al-Shishani, the red-bearded Chechen thought to be the terror group’s “military” chief, on his arrival to the A’zaz District of Aleppo in Syria.

Of particular interest in the photo is the prominent display of the ISIS hand signal – the index finger held up on the right hand. This appears to be the first time Nolen posted a photograph including the ISIS hand signal and it quickly becomes a recurring theme which Nolen, himself, emulates.

Some background: this hand gesture was originally created by Islamists to represent tawhid, the belief in monotheism as it pertains to Islam. ISIS adopted the gesture as the symbol of its group, and uses it to indicate solidarity with ISIS in a fashion similar to the way that criminal street gangs utilize hand signals to communicate gang affiliation.

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Islamic State salute on Alton Nolen’s (a.k.a. Jah’Keem Yisrael) Facebook page. For a larger view click on the image.

In Foreign Affairs, Nathaniel Zalinsky explores the significance of the ISIS hand signal:

[T]he concept of tawhid is central to ISIS’ violent and uncompromising posture toward its opponents, both in the Middle East and in the West… When ISIS militants display the sign, to one another or to a photographer, they are actively reaffirming their dedication to that ideology, whose underlying principle demands the destruction of the West …

The gesture is equally important for what it means to Westerners, most of whom cannot read Arabic. By raising their index fingers, militants send an easy-to-understand message of the group’s goals of theological supremacy and military hegemony… those who underestimate the dangers posed by the Islamic State need look no further than the index finger, which makes ISIS’ ambitions all too clear.

Nolen himself publicly communicated this message for the first time on April 21, 2014. He posted a photograph of what appears to be himself using the right-handed index-finger signal against the backdrop of a Muslim prayer rug that depicts the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. (The Dome of the Rock has become a symbol for Muslims worldwide to conjure images of conquest and dominance over Israel and its capital.)

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For a larger view click on the image.

Nolen posted a photograph [left]on May 30, 2014, of a young man giving the index-finger signal along with the caption, “One whom was guided to Islam 2day I offered him Dawah and he took shahada!” Dawah means to proselytize Islam and shahada is the Muslim declaration of faith. In other words, Nolen wrote that the young man converted to Islam that day. The photograph indicates Nolen was not only proselytizing the Muslim faith but also ISIS ideology.

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Photo series with Alton Nolen giving the Islamic State salute at an Islamic mosque in Oklahoma City, OK. For a larger view click on the image.

In a photo series [right] posted on August 7, 2014, the Facebook status reads, “A night at the Islamic Mosque in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma with two of my brothers from Morocco!” and shows Nolen himself giving the ISIS index-finger hand signal.

Nolen’s support of radical Islam transcended hand signals, however, and his own fascination with beheadings dates back at least to March 7, 2014, when he posted an Islamist propaganda photograph of a severed head along with the following caption:

“I will instill terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them.” Qur’an 8:9-13

The information Nolen shared on Facebook clearly indicates his Islamist orientation. It also reveals that Nolen posted messages supportive of ISIS and adopted the group’s popular hand signals, and it suggests, he closely followed ISIS on jihadi forums. On Sept. 22, these forums broadcast a renewed ISIS call for “lone-wolf” attacks. One of its sheikhs, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, pleaded: “If you can kill an American or European infidel… put your trust in Allah and kill him in any way or manner whatsoever.” Days later, Nolen stands accused of beheading his co-worker.

Regardless if Alton Nolen answered this specific call to violence, he clearly admired his “Muslim brothers” in ISIS and their ideology. This leads one to conclude that the gruesome beheading in Oklahoma could be the first case of an ISIS-inspired terror attack on US soil. In all likelihood, it will not be the last.

© 2014 Danielle Avel

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Officials with the Moore Oklahoma Police Department say the FBI is now involved in the investigation related to a brutal attack of workers at the Vaughn Food South distribution plant. KFOR News Channel 4 reports:

Sgt. Jeremy Lewis says the alleged suspect, 30-year-old Alton Nolen [pictured above] had just been fired when he drove to the front of the business, hit a vehicle and walked inside.

Sgt. Lewis confirms the type of knife used in the attack is the same kind used at the plant. Lewis confirms that Hufford was stabbed several times and that Nolen “severed her head.” At that point, Lewis claims Nolen met 43-year-old Traci Johnson and began attacking her with the same knife.

Officials say at that point, Mark Vaughan, an Oklahoma County reserve deputy and a former CEO of the business, shot him as he was actively stabbing Johnson.

Read more.

Alton A. Nolen has a history of run ins with the law with multiple incarcerations in 2011. It is possible that Nolen converted to Islam while in prison.

JahKeemYisrael3-300x136Jihad Watch’s Robert Spencer reports:

The Oklahoma beheader’s Muslim name is Jah’Keem Yisrael. His Facebook page (thanks to Pamela Geller) is all about Islam. It is not only full of Qur’anic and moral exhortations, but also several pictures of Yisrael at a local mosque. Watch for mosque officials to say they hardly knew him and to complain about “Islamophobia” and “backlash.”

In Jah’Keem Yisrael we once again have a convert to Islam who became quite devout and became violent. In the wake of the murder he committed today, watch for more assurances that the murder had nothing to do with the religion that exhorts believers in its holy book, “When you meet the unbelievers, strike the necks.”

In case the Facebook page gets taken down, Pamela Geller has a great deal of it here.

Nolen was a drug user (marijuana), drug pusher (cocaine) and had multiple arrests for assaults against the police. He had a number of tattoos on his body including one on his abdomen reading “As-salamu alaykum” (Arabic السلام عليكم) used by Muslims. It translates to “peace be upon you”. Below is the Oklahoma Department of Corrections list of offenses courtesy of Heavy.com.

alton-nolan wrap sheet

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EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo of Alton Nolen is courtesy of KFOR News Channel 4. Following is the full text of the 911 call released by the Moore police:

911 Caller: “Shut the door, shut the door!”

Dispatcher: “Moore 911, where is your emergency?”

911 Caller: “Vaughan Foods, Moore, Oklahoma, 216 N.E. 12th St. We have..”

Dispatcher: “What’s going on there?”

911 Caller: “We have someone attacking someone in the building. I was just informed. I’m in the..”

Dispatcher: “Okay, where are they at?”

911 Caller: “Inside, are they in the office? They’re in the office, front office of the building. Yeah, we can hear a lot of screaming. We’re actually in a different office but someone just came in here yelling.”

Dispatcher: “315. Okay, do you know where they’re at in the building?”

911 Caller: “In the front of the building, there’s our main entrance.”

Dispatcher: “Okay, do you know where he is at in the plant?”

911 Caller: “We know that he’s loose. He has stabbed someone.”

Dispatcher: “Yeah, we’ve got medical en route for them.

911 Caller: “Okay.”

Dispatcher: “Is anybody with him or do you know?”

911 Caller: “Hold on, my (garbled.)

Dispatcher: “Respond on lacerations. Vaughan Foods, 216, go ahead sir, N.E. 12th.”

911 Caller: “I’m going to put you on speakerphone for one second, okay?”

Dispatcher: “Standby on a map. Page 1608, time out.”

911 Caller:  “Okay, so we don’t know where the person went and he went through our front office, went through the shipping office and stabbed a woman in our customer service department.”

Dispatcher: “Okay, did he know her? Do you know, is that who he was arguing with? Is she an employee?”

911 Caller: “She is an employee, yeah.”

Dispatcher: “Okay, thank you.”

911 Caller: “Lock that door.”

Dispatcher: “Yeah, go ahead lock everybody in there if you can.”

911 Caller: “Yeah, we’re trying. Okay, can you hear this in the background?”

(yelling)

Dispatcher: “Is that him? He’s back?”

911 Caller: “Yeah, it sounds like he’s running around out here.”

(loud bangs)

911 Caller: “And that, that’s a gun shot.”

Dispatcher: “Got a gun shot. Units responding to Vaughan Foods, be advised we do now have gunshots. Okay, do you know where he’s at now?”

911 Caller: “He’s in the hallway, outside of the center of the building.”

Dispatcher: “Maybe in the hallway in the center of the building. And how many more shots have you heard?”

911 Caller: “We’ve heard three.”

Dispatcher: “Three shots?”

911 Caller: “Now I’m hearing somebody yelling in the hallway, stay down.”

Dispatcher: “There’s another subject yelling in the hallway. Units be advised that there’s another subject yelling in the hallway. Still same amount of injuries.”

911 Caller: “Stay down, stay down.”