Legal Lis Podcast: Is Alton Nolen a Terrorist?


Colleen Hufford was beheaded by 30- year-old Alton Nolen during a gruesome attack at a Vaughan Foods plant in Oklahoma. Nolen was also able to repeatedly stab another victim, Traci Johnson, before he was shot by the company’s CEO, Mark Vaughan, who is also a reserve deputy sheriff. Nolen had been suspended from the company just before he went into Vaughan’s administrative office and attacked the women. Cleveland County prosecutor Greg Mashburn said on Tuesday, 09/30/14, that Nolen will be charged with first-degree murder as well as assault charges.

The good news is that first-degree murder in Oklahoma can result in the death penalty. And it’s not unlikely that this would be Nolen’s fate. But some aren’t satisfied, saying that Nolen is a terrorist and should be charged as such. Before I voiced an opinion one way or the other, I wanted to do a little digging of my own. In essence, I wanted a list of all of the things that point to charging Nolen as a terrorist.

Here’s what I’ve come up with:

  • Nolen recently converted to Islam and reportedly tried to convert co-workers to Islam.
  • Nolen used Arabic terms during his attack.
  • On his Facebook account, Nolen posted photos of Osama bin Laden, other jihadis, and the Twin Towers burning.
  • His Facebook account also included a very graphic photo of a beheaded victim.
  • He reportedly wrote the following on his Facebook: “She (the Statue of Liberty) is going into flames. She and anybody who’s with her.”
  • He posted photos of a woman being flogged with the words “Islam will dominate the world. Freedom can go to hell.”
  • There are some reports that Suhaib Webb, an imam with known ties to former Al Qaeda mastermind Anwar al Awlaki, appears to have influenced the life of Alton Nolen. Webb, who was once the leader of the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, now serves as an imam at a mosque in Boston once attended by accused Boston Marathon bombers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
  • Possibly copying ISIS: ISIS has posted for all to see the beheadings of James Foley, Steven Sotloff, and David Haines. This gives terrorists inspiration to copy. It could be that Nolen was acting as a so-called “lone wolf”. Just last week, an ISIS leader, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, released a recorded speech directed toward “lone wolf” operations and encouraging terrorists to act. “Do not ask for anyone’s advice and do not seek anyone’s verdict, kill the infidel whether he is civilian or military.”

No one factor on its own necessarily spells terrorist, but when combined, you definitely have to wonder. Do you have anything else you think should be added to the list? And do you think Alton Nolen is a terrorist?

You can hear my thoughts on how Nolen should be charged on the Legal Lis podcast: 

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