NEW YORK — The machete-wielding man who allegedly attacked police officers near Times Square on New Year’s Eve was motivated by Islamist extremism, New York City prosecutors said Wednesday.
Trevor Bickford, 19, traveled to New York “to kill people and carry out jihad,” the Manhattan District Attorney’s office told a state court.
Bickford — from Wells, a small coastal town in Maine — was remanded in custody Wednesday at the government’s request following his arraignment on assault and attempted murder charges.
Assistant DA Lucy Nicholas told the hearing that Bickford “specifically traveled” to New York via Boston with the intention of murdering government employees.
He is accused of attacking three officers shortly after 10:00 p.m. just outside the Times Square security zone where tens of thousands had gathered to celebrate the New Year.
Bickford allegedly hit two officers on the head, without causing life-threatening injury, before another officer used his service weapon to wound him in the shoulder.
Following his arrest, Bickford told detectives that he shouted “Allahu Akbar” before the attack, according to the prosecutors’ complaint.
“I walked up and hit him over the head with a kukri. I charged another officer but dropped the knife and I tried to get the police officer’s gun but couldn’t,” Bickford told police.
Nicholas said Bickford also stated that “all government officials” were a target for him “as they cannot be proper Muslims because the United States government supports Israel.”
CNN, citing anonymous sources, reported that Bickford was carrying a diary in which he had expressed his desire to join the Afghan Taliban and die as a martyr.
The FBI had questioned him in mid-December after one of his relatives warned the bureau of his jihadist statements, NBC News reported.