I received the following letter from a Congressional insider regarding Congressman Frank Wolf urging the Justice Department to investigate the recent beheading in Oklahoma by Alton Alexander, who Facebook page is littered with religious rants and pictures of Osama Bin Laden as an act of “terrorism” rather than workplace violence:
September 30, 2014
The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr.
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave NW Rm 5111
Washington DC 20530
Dear Attorney General Holder:
Later today, the Cleveland County, Oklahoma district attorney’s office is expected to seek charges of murder and assault with a deadly weapon against Alton Nolen for his beheading of a woman and stabbing of another at a food processing plant in Oklahoma last week. I am writing today to urge the Justice Department to continue to investigate this decapitation as terrorism and not be quick to just dismiss this as “workplace violence,” as this administration notoriously did in the case of the 2009 terrorist attack on Fort Hood, which left 13 dead and more than 30 wounded.
It has been reported that over the past two years Nolen was becoming radicalized. According to CNN, his Facebook page “included images of Osama bin Laden and an apparent beheading,” and his social media posts became “almost exclusively related to Islam in April 2013 – shortly after he was released from prison.” He also reportedly got into trouble at work for “trying to convert co-workers to Islam,” according to CNN.
In the wake of the department’s failure to “connect the dots” between Anwar Aulaqi and Fort Hood terrorist Nidal Hasan, it is more important than ever for you to make clear to the department’s agents and attorneys that this is, in fact, terrorism and to determine whether this or other plots are part of an effort by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or al Qaeda to radicalize Americans and direct attacks in the U.S.
Whether the Nolen investigation ultimately shows that he communicated directly with terrorists abroad or was independently inspired by the recent ISIS beheading videos, there is no question that this attack represents a direct threat from radicalized Islamist extremists to the American people.
We cannot again let political correctness drive this investigation and prosecution, as this administration did in charging Fort Hood terrorist Nidal Hasan with “workplace violence” instead of terrorism. Then, as now, authorities sought to downplay the Islamic radicalization of the perpetrator in the months leading up to the attack, as well as any outside influence from terrorist groups. As we all know now, Anwar Aulaqi played a key role in the radicalization of Hasan and al Qaeda propaganda motivated his terrorist attack – something the FBI failed to connect prior to the attack, as detailed in the Webster Commission report.
Over the last several years, I have met, spoken with and corresponded with a number of the family members of the victims and survivors of the Fort Hood attack. Each has been adversely impacted by the administration’s misguided prosecution, which resulted in the denial of many of the benefits they would have received if the attack had been designated as terrorism. However, to a person, they all also feel the government has denied them an honest representation of Hasan’s motivations for his attack. This injustice continues to this day, as Hasan just last month asked ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghadadi to make him a citizen of the so-called “Islamic State” – yet the U.S. government still doesn’t recognize his attack as an act of terrorism.
It would be bad enough if this political correctness was limited to Fort Hood, but we have seen a number of examples over the last decade where cases that should have been charged as terrorism were instead treated as criminal matters: Ali Muhammad Brown’s August 2014 murder of a 19 year-old New Jersey man allegedly committed in retaliation for U.S. actions in the Middle East; Carlos Bledsoe’s attack on a U.S. Army recruiting station in Little Rock, Arkansas in 2009; and Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar’s 2006 attack on pedestrians in Chapel Hill, North Carolina where he declared himself a jihadist acting against the U.S. These are just a few examples of the government failing to acknowledge the Islamist terrorist motivation of these deadly attacks.
We should avoid going down this path with Nolen. His attack is the latest incident in a string of horrific beheading attacks, which are an emerging hallmark of radical Islamist terrorism, whether in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Middle East, Europe, and now, here in the United States. For more than a decade, beheadings have been used by al Qaeda to draw attention to their murder of Westerners, such as journalist Daniel Pearl in Pakistan in 2002, contractor Nicholas Berg in Iraq in 2004 and British Army soldier Lee Rigby in London in 2013, as well as to strike fear in their opponents. More recently, this heinous act has been embraced by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) as they have released gruesome videos of the beheading of U.S. and British journalists, as well as less well known videos displaying scores of Syrian soldiers’ heads on pikes. As some have noted in recent days, Nolen’s attack marks the first time a jihadist has committed a beheading on American soil, a deeply troubling milestone.
As The Washington Post’s Walter Pincus this morning pointed out, ISIS’ ability to broadcast its messages of violence around the globe instantaneously is part of a campaign to radicalize, recruit and mobilize more terrorists. Pincus notes, ISIS is “active on social media, it has pamphlets, weekly illustrated magazines, billboards, T-shirts, baseball hats and even propaganda offices in Syria and Iraq. The Islamic State has expanded the message machine, too, particularly since the United States began its air attacks against the terrorist group’s forces in Iraq on Aug. 8.”
This is all to instill fear in Americans. Consider this from Pincus’ piece this morning:
“One of the most recent examples of Islamic State propaganda came in a Sept. 21 speech by its chief spokesman, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, broadcast in Arabic, translated into many languages and placed on social media around the world.
“Adnani sprinkles his 42-minute, 12-page speech with disparaging descriptions of U.S. officials that are bound to be circulated among jihadist fighters, with whom they will resonate. Obama is called a ‘mule of the Jews,’ and Secretary of State John F. Kerry is called an ‘’uncircumcised old geezer.’
“Addressing Americans, Adnani says: ‘The Islamic State did not institute a war against you, as your governments and media try to make you believe.’
“He adds that the United States ‘will pay the price’ when its economy collapses and ‘you will pay the price when your sons are sent to wage a war against us and they return to you as disabled amputees, or inside coffins or mentally ill.’
“Then he adds that Americans, ‘will pay the price as you walk on your streets, turning right and left, fearing the Muslims. You will not feel secure even in your bedrooms. You will pay the price when this crusade of yours collapses and thereafter we will strike you in your homeland you will never be able to harm anyone afterwards.’”
We owe it to Traci Johnson and the family of Colleen Hufford to acknowledge this brutal killing as an act of terror committed by a man radicalized and influenced by terrorist groups like al Qaeda and ISIS. The department also has an obligation to ensure it never again repeats the mistakes of Fort Hood by allowing political correctness to prevent action from being taken to stop a would-be jihadist. I hope you and the department will do the right thing, rather than repeat the shameful mistakes of the Fort Hood investigation and prosecution.
Frank R. Wolf
Member of Congress