Jan. 10 (UPI) — The Justice Department announced federal charges Tuesday against a Maine teenager in the New Year’s Eve machete attack on three New York police officers near Times Square.
Trevor Thomas Bickford, a 19-year-old resident of Wells, Maine, was charged by complaint of attempting to kill officers and employees of the U.S. government in the name of radical Islamic Jihad.
“We allege that the defendant plotted a jihad-inspired attack targeting U.S. government officials, and on Dec. 31, 2022, attacked three NYPD officers who were part of the joint federal-state law enforcement operation protecting the Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland.
“We are deeply grateful for the bravery of the officers who were injured in this horrible attack and who put their lives on the line everyday to serve their communities,” Garland added.
According to the allegations in the complaint, Bickford started accessing materials on radical Islamic idealogy during the summer of 2022. He allegedly told a family member that he wanted to travel to the Middle East to become a suicide bomber for his religion before ultimately deciding to stay in the United States and wage jihad against the U.S. government.
The complaint says Bickford traveled from Maine to New York City in late December and went to Times Square on New Year’s Eve, armed with a large machete-like knife, known as a kukri.
According to the complaint, Bickford allegedly attacked three NYPD officers at approximately 10:10 p.m. at 52nd Street and Eighth Avenue, the access point for the New Year’s celebration several blocks from Times Square.
The complaint says Bickford approached the officers and declared “Allahu Akbar” — an Arabic phrase meaning “God is great” — before stabbing and striking the officers in the head with his weapon. One of the injured officers shot Bickford in the shoulder to end the attack.
A bag found at the scene was recovered by law enforcement. Among other things, it contained a book by al-Maqdisi promoting jihad and the use of swords on the heads of disbelievers. Bickford’s journal was also inside with an entry from earlier that day that said “this will likely be my last entry.”
Bickford is currently in state custody and will be transported to Manhattan federal court to face the federal charges filed in the Southern District of New York.
If convicted, Bickford could face 80 years in prison. He is charged with four counts of attempted murder of officers and employees of the U.S. government and persons assisting them. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.
“Bickford deliberately planned and executed his violent attack against New York City Police officers who were simply doing their job protecting the public,” Assistant Director Michael Driscoll of the FBI New York Field Office said.
“Only the quick action of these brave officers prevented further harm. The FBI’s New York Joint Terrorism Task Force is unwavering in its mission to combat terrorism to keep our city safe, and we will bring any radicalized individual willing to commit violence to justice.”