Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Sunday that there’s “no evidence” that ISIS or any other group inspired Alton Nolen to behead a co-wokerer at a food processing plant in Oklahoma last month.
Nolen had recently converted to Islam and reportedly tried to convince co-workers to follow suit, had pictures of jihadis on his Facebook page and used a large knife from his kitchen in the attack. He was let go from the plant right before the attack.
The FBI is investigating Nolen’s use of “Arabic terms in the attack,” according to a court document from District Attorney Greg Mashburn. The state is seeking the death penalty because of the “especially heinous, atrocious or cruel” nature of the slaying.
Johnson was asked Friday on Fox about classifying the beheading as workplace violence.
“He very clearly was somebody who was looking at the extremist ideology, had to some degree, and I don’t really know exactly how much, this is a matter for law enforcement, some degree had had embraced it, and there’s no evidence at this point that he was directed by a terrorist organization to do what he did or that that was the principle motivating factor,” the DHS secretary replied. “This was a horrible act of violence and it will be resolved I’m sure in criminal justice.”
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin said officials in her state are still probing Nolen’s connections and motives.
“Since the attack was reported, I have been communicating with law enforcement as well as Oklahoma’s Department of Homeland Security to ensure a thorough investigation is conducted into the motives of the attacker. That investigation is still ongoing, and it is unclear at this time whether the crime was an act of terrorism, workplace violence, or a gruesome combination of both,” Fallin said in a statement last week.
“I have asked the Oklahoma Department of Homeland Security to work with the FBI to quickly get the facts and share them with the people of Oklahoma. In the meantime, I’m asking Oklahomans to remain alert and report any suspicious activity to local law enforcement.”
Fallin added that she has asked law enforcement “to keep me informed so that I can relay factual information to Oklahomans.”
Texas Gov. Rick Perry told Fox “the White House is going to have to deal with this.”
“It’s going to have to, you know, get straight to the point here. We know what’s going on. And the idea that this is everyday workplace violence — Americans know that’s not the case,” Perry said. “And every day that goes by without pointing out the fact that this was most likely an act of terror is not in the best interests of America.”
The White House has remained mostly mum on the beheading, with Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken telling Fox on Sept. 28, “The FBI has an active investigation. I’m not going to get ahead of it. Let’s see what they find.”
KFOR reported that “an official from Washington D.C. flew in to Oklahoma to present a special thank you to the Muslim congregation” at the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City. “Your service is a powerful example of the powerful roots of the Abrahamic faiths and how our communities can come together with shared peace with dignity and a sense of justice,” President Obama said in a statement to the group, which was celebrating Eid al-Adha.
The Islamic Society last week issued a statement against a story on Fox News that featured an anonymous man who said he attended the mosque and said “when they’re among friends and congregants only, they will promote the true teachings of Islam, which include the offer to non-Muslims – the choice rather that you must convert, live under Islamic rule, or be fought against.”
“As we join our fellow Oklahomans in shock at the murder, ISGOC is troubled to find that some irresponsible entities are attempting to link the perpetrator’s outrages to our leadership and institution,” the statement said. “…Anonymous speakers making uncorroborated allegations against minority communities is as un-American as it gets. We urge Fox News to investigate this significant lapse in journalistic integrity.”
“The anonymous speaker claimed that he was last in our institution in 2011 at the request of law enforcement. We question why [Megyn] Kelly did not note that no allegations of
misdoing have ever been levelled at our institution by any law enforcement entity. Each and every allegation made against the ISGOC is false.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) last week accused Obama of being “weak” in not calling the beheading terrorism and “not being honest either with himself or the public about the times in which we live.”
“Seventy-six percent of the American people believe he’s being too soft, too weak regarding radical Islam. I bet you if you polled ISIL, 100 percent would say the same thing. If you polled our enemies, they would say he’s weak. If you polled our friends, they would say he’s weak,” Graham said.
“The American people have figured this out. And President Obama constantly says things that make no sense. ISIL’s at war with us, my friend.”