Although there’s no evidence that Alton Nolen– a Muslim convert accused of beheading a former fellow employee in Oklahoma last week– was part of any organized terrorist group, the horrific nature of his crime strongly suggests it was inspired by the widely-publicized beheadings of Westerners carried out by the Islamic State in Syria.
It seems Nolen– who has a criminal background– is a highly disturbed individual who might well have reacted violently to being fired from his job even if he had no connection to Islam. Sadly, he wouldn’t have been the first. Rage-fueled incidents like this are all too common.
Some people are upset that authorities are labeling the murder as “workplace violence” instead of “terrorism.” To me, it seems like a combination of both, and what you call it is less important than how we deal with it.
That’s no reason to be unconcerned about the possibility of similar incidents in the future, or to overlook the reality that what Islamic extremists do in the Middle East can influence the behavior of disaffected or disturbed Muslims in the West.
Update: Media Matters raises the question of why certain media outlets devote intensive coverage to cases like to Oklahoma beheading, and specifically to the alleged “political correctness” of those who don’t call it “terrorism,” while paying far less attention to another story– an ongoing case of terrorism which seems at least equally deserving of public awareness.