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World & Nation

Muslim groups condemn Oklahoma beheading

Alton Nolen, suspect in Oklahoma workplace beheading
Alton Nolen, who is suspected of beheading a coworker at a Moore., Okla., food processing plant, in a 2011 Oklahoma Department of Corrections photo.
(Associated Press)

After an Oklahoma woman’s beheading in what authorities say was an attack by a man with alleged ties to Islam, Muslim groups condemned the violence and offered condolences to the families of its victims

Authorities say Alton Nolen, 30, beheaded one woman and stabbed another Thursday afternoon at the Vaughan Foods Plant in Moore, Okla., about 10 miles south of Oklahoma City. Employees said Nolen had been trying to convert some workers to Islam and was recently fired from his job at the plant.

“We wholly reject this barbaric and inhumane act,” Nasim Rehmatullah, vice president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA, said in a statement. “And we mourn with the victims.”

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For the record: An earlier version of this story said the woman was beheaded by a man with alleged ties to Islam. The man is a suspect in the beheading.

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In a separate statement, the Muslim Public Affairs Council sent its “deepest condolences” to the families of victims and are in “close communication” with law enforcement agencies and government officials.

Nolen allegedly beheaded Colleen Hufford, 54, before then stabbing Traci Johnson, 43, several times. The company’s founder, Mark Vaughan, a reserve sheriff’s deputy, then shot Nolen, who remains hospitalized in stable condition.

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The killing follows the recent beheadings of two American journalists overseas by the Islamic State militant group, but authorities have said that they have not tied the violence in Oklahoma to Islamic State. The FBI is investigating, along with local police.

Qasim Rashid, spokesman for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA, said it was important to release the statement to ensure that Americans know that violence is not tolerated by Muslims.

“Rather than being reactive, we wanted to be proactive in letting people know that we believe that these acts are wrong,” Rashid said Saturday.

Nolen, who has a string of convictions from 2011, was released from probation in April. His offenses included 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

Police databases found that Nolen had “Jesus Christ” tattooed across his chest and “As-salaamu Ataikum,” tattooed on his stomach, which could be a misspelling of “As-salaamu Alaikum,” a standard Muslim greeting that means “Peace be upon you.”

Staff writer Christine Mai-Duc contributed to this report.

Follow @kurtisalee and email kurtis.lee@latimes.com


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