A man who carried out a knife attack on New Year’s Eve 2022 has pleaded guilty to federal charges.
Trevor Bickford, who was 19 at the time, attacked three police officers with a machete just outside of New York City’s Times Square.
No officers died in the attack, but all three were hospitalised for their injuries. Bickford — who had travelled there from Maine — was shot in the shoulder and taken into custody.
According to court documents, Bickford’s attack was intended as a “jihadist mission.” He had recently converted to Islam, and just months before the attack, he had begun “consuming materials espousing radical Islamic ideology,” including content related to the Taliban.
“Over the ensuing months, Bickford radicalized, devoting himself to violent Islamic extremism and waging jihad,” the documents state.
Bickford had previously suggested he was interested in committing an act of violence, telling family members he wanted to travel to Jordan or Afghanistan to be a suicide bomber. He also purchased a crossbow and regularly practiced shooting it.
According to federal officials, Bickford had planned to die in the attack “in an effort to achieve martyrdom,” and therefore “believed his attack was unsuccessful, because he did not kill any officers, and he did not die himself.”
“Bickford targeted the iconic yearly celebration to carry out brazen acts of violence and hatred in the name of jihad,” US Attorney Damian Williams for the Southern District of New York said in a statement. “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.”
Bickford, who is now 20, pleaded guilty to three counts of attempted murder of US government employees, as well as three counts of assault on US government employees, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment.
In all, he could face up to 120 years in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for 11 April.
In court on Thursday, Bickford apologized for the attack, the New York Times reported. Since that day, he said he has been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and now takes psychiatric medication.
“I know what I did was wrong,” he said, “and I’m sorry.”