By Brett Daniel Shehadey
Special Contributor for In Homeland Security
In Oklahoma in September, a 30-year-old convicted felon named Alton Nolen was shot by a reserve sheriff’s deputy and founder Mark Vaughan at Vaughan Foods after beheading a woman and stabbing another in the office. The Moore Police Department requested the help of the FBI to vet the suspect Nolen’s background for possible terrorist connections abroad.
Meet the chief suspect Alton Nolan who just regained consciousness at a university hospital. Nolen is a recent convert to Islam with a past of: “marijuana possession, escape from detention, assault and battery on a police officer and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, according to records from state corrections officials” (LA Times). He had also been proselytizing, trying to convert his fellow workers to Islam. He wrote in a Facebook post: “This is the last days. AMERICA AND ISRAEL ARE WICKED. WAKE UP MUSLIMS!!!”
The line mimics exactly the international jihadist beliefs and rally calls for war against America and the West.
The open information environment in the U.S. has allowed radical violent jihadist ideologies to gain an ideological foothold here in this country and prepare the minds of fringe Muslim groups as well as marginalized non-Muslim individuals.
Secondly, the lack of American political willpower to ideologically defuse domestic violent Islamic extremism with massive counter-propaganda campaigns offers them a monopoly of access and influence in our cyberspace. We naturally expect people to choose our excellent liberal values but we fail to see that they our often times irrational and are bombarded by devilish operators who would exploit and turn our citizens and residents against us. While a free and open information environment is our finest principle we must also protect it by fighting evil and the incitement of violent and evil deeds. We need to fight them nationally as well as internationally on this battlefield of the mind. Simply ignoring the most important psychological war of all times does not make it vanish or make it less of an internal threat.
No matter what the information environment America has to offer, however, the trigger and the heart of this perverted violent Islamic fanaticism lies in the absolute failure at life for these individuals wherever they are, taken together with absolute religious beliefs, which cannot be reconciled with the present difficult real world conditions. Such cognitive dissonance and disparity of these desperate souls have internalized their hatred over years or they are recent fiery converts compelled by the international jihadist message with the desire to destroy the whole system around them. Their psychology is a personalization of the world around them as an evil player and that if it is creating conditions that make them failures and losers socially, then they must blow up the world, so to speak.
Is the beheading in Oklahoma an isolated copy-cat trend? Possibly, but not likely. The nature and intensity of emotional outrage acts might one day supplant those of sophisticated terror plots of our past. That is truly a great concern. The ideological jihadist movement world-wide is that of revolutionary characteristics rather than organizational. Agents will appear from society as non-active sleepers and then livened in acts of hatred in response to unwanted policies at the behest of anon-hierarchical leadership of influence. They are literally potential unlit fuses to explosive ordinance detonations.
It must become apolitical and undeniable that violent Islamic extremism is the biggest threat within the U.S. The evidence speaks for itself and so do the casualty lists. After 9/11 there was just cause to shift to right wing terrorism as a focus due to a rising number of incidents but the recent emergence of the Islamic State and the one hundred suspected participants from the U.S. the security environment traveling overseas is rapidly changing as the violent international jihadists resurge.
Also, we must keep in mind that Muslim communities alone prevent a large percent of Islamic terrorist incidents and must be partnered with in our efforts as fellows, if possible, rather than subcultures and enclaves. Yet keeping track of the recent converts outside of national and ethnic Muslim communities may be even more difficult.
The key ingredient to the violent Islamic conversion process is that of any already discontent and overly angry anti-establishmentarian, no matter what the politics. And it is happening over the internet and the airwaves for the next generation, not so much the mosques.
Aside from the lone wolfs, the family and friends proximity network of radicalization toward the violent extremist Islam, the recruitment or mere susceptibility in certain areas of society may unfortunately be fertile grounds. We have seen this in individuals in the military who have access to weapons familiarity, training or base security (e.g. the Fort Hood shooting or the cases of friendly fire by radicalized Muslim soldiers). Naturally, Muslims are the most susceptible but only a fraction of a fraction of a percent will ever commit murder. It appears that the jihadist market have largely traversed elsewhere in America in search for active players.
The latest potential trend in domestic Islamic terrorism could be the recruitment of ex-cons. What better place to recruit the most violent members of American?
Importantly, while a highly disturbed and brutal murder Nolen has not yet been and may not be a terrorist at all. Such acts unrelated to acts of terrorism are criminal vents of outrage from violent Islamic extremists. These should be expected to increase in number. The Tsarnaev Brother Marathon Bombing is a similar incident in which violent Islamic extremist rage, and not terrorism, resulted in a mass murder incident. There were no threats to the government and no demands. Dzhokhar admitted his anger at American actions as this was his response and was drawn into it by his radicalized brother Tamerlane and the al Qaeda magazine called Inspire.
This is the real enemy to public safety is violent extremist ideology, the pretexts and conditions for incitement. While terrorism, in addition to this, is a threat to our national security as well as the public safety. Preaching a message of peace, passivism, hope and love would be a start. Countering Islamic hate messages would be a follow on.
It is fairly straightforward:
Extreme anger issues trigger extreme anger events—hatred rallies mix propaganda with religious ideology over time—they offer visionary solutions, ways out or release from perceived social burdens or repression by demanding and inciting violent actions—the feeling of being part of something greater than oneself is attractive too—the feeling of the spiritual and supernatural combine with a feeling of going beyond the constrained reality conditions and extreme failures or obstacles—destruction of perceived social burdens, troubles and or repression and the feeling of controlling other people’s lives in your hands and altering the system is empowering to them.
It is critical that we maintain strong first response capabilities for more violent Islamic extremist attacks, bombings, shootings or beheadings, but it is also essential that we begin the counter-propaganda messages in order to reduce the building momentum of violent ideology circulating through the minds of those weak links within society. They are extremely sophisticated and strategic and permeate and exploit every media facet. A victory on this battlefield will require a total long-term national commitment in coordination with all sectors of American society while embracing partnerships and strong friendship with the Muslim American community.
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