Fed Charges Brought Against Wells, Maine, Man in Times Square Attack
More details were made public about Trevor Bickford's jihad on government officials and how the Wells man became radicalized while attending mosques in New Hampshire and Maine, as federal charges were brought against him for a knife attack on three NYPD officers near Times Square on New Year's Eve.
Bickford, 19, was charged Tuesday by Attorney General Merrick B. Garland with four counts of attempted murder of officers and employees of the U.S. government and persons assisting them, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The charges carry an aggregate potential sentence of 80 years in prison.
"We allege that the defendant plotted a jihad-inspired attack targeting U.S. government officials, and on December 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,” Garland said in a statement. “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 every day to serve their communities."
According to the complaint obtained by WMTW TV Bickford made the decision to wage jihad while attending mosques in New Hampshire and southern Maine. He left a copy of the book and a note at the New Hampshire mosque urging members to read the teachings of al-Maqdisi's, a prominent radical Islamic cleric.
The names of the mosques were not disclosed in the complaint.
In one of two bags Bickford was carrying the night of the attacks, investigations found a book by al-Maqdisi promoting jihad. Bickford highlighted a page that read, "fight in the Name of Allah and in the Cause of Allah. Fight against those who do not believe in Allah. Wage a holy war.”
Canceled Middle East Trip
Merrick said Bickford decided in November that he wanted to travel to the Middle East to support the Taliban and work against governments that oppress Muslims. He told a family member he planned on becoming a suicide bomber for his religion. He ultimately decided to stay in the U.S. and wage jihad against the U.S. government.
According to the complaint, Bickford purchased a plane ticket to Jordan but did not use it.
Carrying a machete known as a kukri that had a blade that is over a foot long, the Wells High School graduate went to Times Square before New Year's Eve. He walked around the area “trying to figure out the right time to kill," according to the complaint. He tried to "hype himself up" for the attack by reciting verses from the Quran in his head.
On New Year's Eve, Bickford identified an NYPD officer who was isolated from civilians and other officers, took out the kukri from his backpack, declared “Allahu Akbar,” and attacked the officers, starting with one who was isolated from others. He took the kukri from his bag and shouted "Allahu Akbar" as he attacked the first officer.
Bickford intended to die in the attack, in an effort to achieve martyrdom. He wrote in a journal found in one of two bags Bickford was carrying that "this will likely be my last entry." Bickford told police he intended to die in the attack in an effort to achieve martyrdom. He believed his attack was unsuccessful because he did not kill any officers and he did not die himself.
The journal also contained an entry in which Bickford believed his brother who enlisted in the military had "joined the ranks of the enemy."
Bickford was shot in the shoulder by one of the officers he attacked, and was recovering at a Manhattan hospital.
He faces eighteen felony counts in the incident after being indicted by a New York City grand jury.