Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken told Fox News this morning that “we don’t know” if the beheading of a woman by a Muslim co-worker in Oklahoma last week was terrorism.
Alton Nolen, 30, a recent convert to Islam, reportedly tried to convince co-workers at the Vaughn Food processing plant in Moore, Okla, to convert before last week’s murder. His Facebook page was under the name Jah’Keem Yisrael and included images of jihadists and Quran citations.
After being notified he was being let go from his job, he went to the front office of the plant and attacked 54-year-old Colleen Hufford with a knife, beheading her. He then stabbed 43-year-old Traci Johnson, who survived, multiple times before being shot by the company’s CEO, Mark Vaughn.
“The FBI has an active investigation. I’m not going to get ahead of it. Let’s see what they find,” Blinken told Fox.
“But as we all now with Nidal Hasan, when he shot up and kill the number of American soldiers, the administration labeled it workplace violence,” host Chris Wallace asked the White House official. “Are you willing to call this an act of terror if, in fact, that’s what it is?”
“I don’t want to get — of course if that’s what it is, absolutely,” Blinken replied. “But I don’t want to get ahead of the facts. Let’s let the FBI investigate.”
A New York Democrat told MSNBC on Friday that he suspects Nolen was at least “influenced” by ISIS.
“There are copycats out there. We see it happen when we see mass murder here in the United States. We always fear about a copycat incident,” Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) said. “And I don’t think anything — I don’t think we can expect anything less on the world stage when someone like — what is so depraved and really baseless that ISIL has been involved with in terms of beheading. That if someone is vulnerable, mentally disturbed, that it may have an influence on them.”
“I think that may be what happened here. I hope it’s not the case.”
Members of Congress have been relatively quiet about the murder; neither of Oklahoma’s GOP senators, Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn, have issued statements about the attack.
NBC terrorism analyst Evan Coleman said “it certainly looks like him being fired was a predicating factor in what he did.”
“But nonetheless, if you look at the facts that occur here, in the absence of other evidence, it’s very difficult to imagine that the events of the past few weeks did not influence this man somehow. You don’t just go and behead a co-worker. That doesn’t happen very often,” Coleman said.
“Now, if this does prove that this has been inspired by ISIS, and I doubt it was something, you know, coordinated by ISIS, but if it was something inspired by what ISIS did in Iraq, it illustrates exactly the problem we have with lone wolves. It is that you don’t have to have a Ph.D. to murder someone, you don’t have to be sophisticated, you don’t have to operate on somebody else’s orders. And even as someone unsophisticated, someone who’s a crank, you can still hurt a lot of people. And I think this is exactly evidence for why this is such a problem.”
Adam Soltani, the executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations in Oklahoma, told KFOR that “it’s really unfortunate that there’s a lot of attention on Muslims these days for actions of people who are either part of extremist groups or who have extreme ideas.”
“However, Islam is clear on what it stands for. Islam stands for peace, Islam stands for justice, Islam stands for love for humanity, compassion and mercy,” Soltani said. “What this gentleman did in Moore, which is inhumane and barbaric, is definitely not a representation of what our faith teaches and we hope and pray that justice will be brought against the perpetrator soon, so that the victims and their families can find some sort of solace in that justice,”