New York police officials claimed on Monday that 19-year-old Trevor Bickford, charged with two counts of attempted murder and two counts of attempted assault for allegedly attacking police with a machete on New Year’s Eve, kept a diary in which he expressed a desire to join the Taliban and die as a “martyr” in the cause of Islamic extremism.
The Maine teenager allegedly approached three police officers near Times Square at around 10:00 p.m. on New Year’s Eve and assaulted them with a machete. ABC News on Monday quoted sources who said Bickford took a sip of water and then shouted “Allahu akbar!” before swinging his blade at the officers.
One of the officers shot Bickford in the shoulder during the attack. Another officer, recent police academy graduate Paul Cozzolino, suffered a skull fracture and a cut to his head. The third policeman, veteran officer Louis Iorio, suffered a cut to his head. The blade was reportedly rusted and dull and the suspect’s first few swings were made with the hilt instead of the blade, accounting for the relatively minor injuries to his victims.
Officers Cozzolino and Iorio were released from the hospital on Sunday, while Bickford remained at Bellevue Hospital in stable condition from his gunshot wound. New Year’s Eve was Cozzolino’s first night on the job.
— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) January 1, 2023
Bickford hails from the small beachfront town of Wells, Maine. The far-left newspaper New York Times (NYT) on Monday reported Bickford allegedly left Maine with “several thousand dollars in cash” and his machete in early December, arriving by train in New York last Thursday.
Bickford allegedly spent Friday night in a Bowery hotel, made a “large donation in accordance with the Muslim tenets of charity” at the Bowery mission, and then took a subway to Queens with a sleeping bag and some food to prepare for his assault, which specifically targeted police officers.
A police official told the NYT Bickford was “at peace” with getting injured or killed, because he “took comfort in knowing he was fighting for Islam.”
ABC News said the last page in what is believed to be his diary asked for “burial according to the Islamic tradition,” but “not in the land of the non-believers,” if he died during his jihadi attack.
The NYT’s source said police recovered Bickford’s backpack and found it contained his diary, which included content on his Islamic radicalization and expressed animosity toward his brother, who serves in the U.S. military. According to the alleged diary, he was dismayed that the rest of his family did not convert to Islam with him.
Bickford’s diary also reportedly included a standard jihadi farewell letter to his mother, in which he wrote: “I fear greatly you will not repent to Allah and therefore I hold hope in my heart that a piece of you believes so that you may be taken out of the hellfire.”
According to the NYT report, Bickford was an honors student who began to “spiral downward” after his father died from a drug overdose in 2018. He converted to Islam sometime in the past year and a half, consumed a great deal of online material about Islamic issues, and became angry over the persecution of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and the Uyghur Muslims in China.
A suspect with possible Islamic extremism ties is in custody after three police officers were injured in a machete attack near Times Square on New Year’s Eve. https://t.co/JhIuDOPyZX
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) January 2, 2023
A law enforcement source told left-wing news outlet CNN on Monday that Bickford “expressed a desire to join the Taliban in Afghanistan and die as a martyr” in his diary. It was not clear how this plan could be reconciled with his earlier comments that he was ready to fight for the Rohingya and Uyghurs. The Taliban, which now governs Afghanistan uncontestedly, maintains friendly ties to China and supports the Uyghur genocide.
CNN claimed the NYPD circulated a bulletin on Friday warning of an Islamic State video that called for worldwide lone-wolf attacks against infidels on New Year’s Eve. Knife attacks were one of the “low-tech tactics” allegedly suggested. CNN’s sources said it was “not clear” if Bickford was influenced by this video.
The New York Daily News (NYDN) reported on Monday that Bickford was already on the FBI’s radar screen, having been interviewed by federal officers last month after his mother told the authorities he was planning to join the Taliban in Afghanistan. Bickford was placed on an FBI terrorism watch list, but somehow the NYPD was not informed.
“The FBI has yet to comment on the Bickford case and an NYPD spokesperson declined to say whether the department pressed the FBI on what it knew about Bickford prior to the attack,” the NYDN reported.
Several reports indicated investigators are curious as to why Bickford apparently slept in Forest Park, Queens, on the night before launching his attack, and wish to determine if he chose such a remote location because he planned to meet with someone.
Bickford may yet face terrorism charges in addition to assault and attempted murder. If such charges are filed, ABC noted the incident will be officially classified as the first long-feared terrorist attack on the huge New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square.