A machete-wielding Muslim man who injured two New York City police officers on New Year’s Eve told prosecutors he carried out the attack because of the United States' support for Israel.
The Manhattan district attorney’s office revealed during a Tuesday arraignment hearing that the 19-year-old assailant, Trevor Bickford, was targeting U.S. officials because "they cannot be proper Muslims because the United States government supports Israel," assistant prosecutor Lucy Nicholas said in court. Bickford is currently being held without bail after prosecutors argued he posed "a significant flight risk."
The statements corroborate reports that Bickford was motivated by Islamic extremism. A recent Muslim convert, he expressed a desire to fight for Islamic militants in the Middle East, prompting his family to notify the authorities. The FBI later placed him on its terrorism watchlist.
The office of Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg (D.) has charged Bickford with three counts of attempted first-degree murder, as well as attempted first-degree assault, and multiple counts of first- and second-degree assault. He faces a potential life sentence.
In a diary found on Bickford after the attack, the assailant begged his family to "repent to Allah" and "accept Islam." He later informed prosecutors he was planning to travel to Miami on Amtrak before flying out of the country but later "decided to come to New York first in order to kill people and carry out Jihad."
Bickford also called his brother the "enemy" in the diary entry for having served in the U.S. military.
Bickford said he waited to strike until three NYPD officers were isolated from pedestrians, according to prosecutors. After lacerating two of them with his knife, Bickford dropped the weapon and tried to seize one of the officers’ firearms to kill them before he was shot by the third officer.
Officers Paul Cozzolino and Louis Iorio have been released from the hospital after being treated for head wounds. Officer Michael Hanna suffered no injuries before shooting Bickford.