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Man Who Carried Out Machete Attack on NYPD Officers in Times Square on NYE 2022 Pleads Guilty to Terrorism Charges

Trevor Bickford, 20, of Wells, Maine, today pleaded guilty to multiple counts of attempting to kill officers and employees of the U.S. government and persons assisting them based on his jihadist attack using a machete-style knife against three New York City Police Department (NYPD) officers in Times Square on New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31, 2022.

“Last New Year’s Eve, Trevor Bickford attacked courageous NYPD officers protecting those celebrating in Times Square as part of his effort, as he later told law enforcement, to commit jihad in New York City,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “Today’s guilty plea should serve as a warning: terrorists who target and attack law enforcement and endanger the American people will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”

“The defendant in this case, motivated by violent extremist views, traveled to New York City for the sole purpose of committing acts of violence and attacked three police officers causing serious injuries,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “Police officers bravely protect the American people and attacks against them cannot be tolerated. The FBI will work tirelessly with our law enforcement partners to hold accountable all those who engage in acts of terrorism.”

“As he admitted in court today, Trevor Bickford attempted to murder three NYPD officers while they were on duty protecting the thousands of civilians who flocked to Times Square just over a year ago to celebrate the New Year with friends and family,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams for the Southern District of New York. “Bickford targeted the iconic yearly celebration to carry out brazen acts of violence and hatred in the name of jihad. Bickford, as with countless others who have carried out acts of terrorism in support of misguided ideologies, is now going to spend lengthy time exactly where he deserves – in federal prison.”

According to court documents, in December 2022, Bickford, a U.S. citizen and resident of Maine, traveled from Maine to New York City to, in his own words, wage jihad and kill as many of his targets as possible. After considering his options, researching his target location, and settling on his plan of attack, he packed a large machete-like blade and went to one of the most densely populated areas in the United States at one of the most densely populated times possible: Times Square on New Year’s Eve. Bickford then chose to ambush three NYPD officers, declared “Allahu Akbar,” an Arabic phrase meaning “God is great” that other radical Islamic extremists have similarly proclaimed while carrying out terrorist attacks, and attacked them with his blade, seriously injuring all three officers. One of the officers managed to shoot Bickford in the shoulder, halting his violent rampage. Bickford later declared that he carried out his attack to wage jihad and admitted that his goal was to kill as many military-aged men who worked for the U.S. government as he could before himself becoming a martyr. The machete-style knife with a blade over a foot long that Bickford used to carry out his jihadist attack is shown below:

A picture displaying a machete with a black handle and curved blade.

Bickford spent months consuming materials espousing radical Islamic ideology — including materials promoting the Taliban and reflecting the teachings of Sheikh Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi, a prominent radical Islamic cleric who was a spiritual mentor of al Qaeda — and contemplating ways to wage jihad. As he immersed himself deeper into this propaganda, Bickford devoted himself to violent Islamic extremism and pursuit of the jihad that he would eventually unleash in the heart of New York City. In the months leading up to his attack, Bickford focused on traveling overseas to support the Taliban in Afghanistan or elsewhere. He planned to ally himself with the Taliban to fight against governments that, in his view, oppress Muslims, and to wage jihad against officials of governments that he believes are anti-Muslim, including the U.S. Government. Ultimately, Bickford decided that he would not travel overseas and instead turned his attention to an attack in the United States. After months of radicalization, this decision resulted in Bickford perpetrating his attack in Times Square on New Year’s Eve just over a year ago. Near the scene of the attack, law enforcement recovered a book from Bickford’s backpack with the following passage highlighted: “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.”

Bickford pleaded guilty to three 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; and three counts of assault 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 120 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The FBI’s New York Joint Terrorism Task Force is investigating the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew J.C. Hellman, Sarah L. Kushner, and Kaylan E. Lasky for the Southern District of New York and Trial Attorney D. Andrew Sigler of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section are prosecuting the case.

January 11, 2024


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