The machete-wielding assailant who wounded two police officers in Times Square on New Year's Eve was motivated by Islamic extremism, according to reports.
Law enforcement officials told the New York Times and the New York Post on Monday that Trevor Bickford pleaded with his family to "repent to Allah" and "accept Islam," according to an entry in a diary found on him after the attack. Officials say the 19-year-old, who recently converted to Islam, was placed on the FBI's terrorism watchlist after expressing a desire to fight in Afghanistan alongside Islamic militants.
Bickford, who carried out the assault hours before the new year, has been charged with two counts of attempted murder and attempted assault for each police officer he injured, officials say. He could also face terrorism charges.
The machete-waving Muslim apparently waited until the officers were isolated from bystanders before striking, according to the Times. In his diary, Bickford also referred to law enforcement, as well as his brother who serves in the U.S. military, as the "enemy."
Officers Paul Cozzolino and Louis Iorio both suffered head injuries but have since been released from the hospital. A third officer, Michael Hanna, subdued Bickford, shooting him in the shoulder.
The Maine native left his home state in December and arrived in New York City on Saturday to carry out the attack. Shortly after leaving home, his family alerted authorities of his plans to venture to the Middle East, which prompted an FBI investigation.
Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg (D.), who won election in 2021 thanks to a $1 million donation from the left-wing billionaire George Soros, is waiting for Bickford's arraignment hearing to announce charges in the case, according to a spokeswoman for Bragg's office.
The assault comes just months after the brutal stabbing of the novelist Salman Rushdie by another Islamic extremist in New York State. The knife-wielding assailant, who stabbed the British-American writer a dozen times, told the Post from his jail cell that Rushdie had "attacked Islam" and that he felt "respect" for former Iranian supreme leader Ruhollah Khomeini, who in 1989 issued a fatwa over Rushdie's book The Satanic Verses.