The man suspected of attacking three New York City policemen with a machete on New Year’s Eve was reading the Qur’an and was considering carrying out an international attack, according to law enforcement sources who shared new information about the suspect’s movements prior to the attack.
According to two senior officials briefed on the attack, 19-year-old Trevor Bickford, who resides in Wells, Maine, about 300 miles from Times Square, told investigators that he had self-radicalized in the past three or four months, describing the suspect as partially Salafist. -a self-grown, violent extremist motivated by extremism.
Although only a small minority of Muslims are Salafists, most Muslim extremist movements, including al-Qaeda, have their roots in Salafism, a fundamentalist Islamic movement rooted in 13th- and 14th-century teachings, according to the Minerva Research Initiative, a research program. The Anti-Extremism Project, the Ministry of Defense and a non-partisan international policy organization.
Bickford was arrested for two attempted murders and two attempted assaults.
The timing of Bickford’s appearance in court remains unclear, a spokesman for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office said on Tuesday. Officials say the Department of Justice continues to investigate whether federal terrorism-related charges are justified.
He was shot in the shoulder by police during the attack and was hospitalized on Tuesday. It was not immediately clear whether Bickford had a lawyer who could speak for him.
One of the two senior officials briefed on the attack said Bickford initially stated that he considered waging “jihad” against Burma or China because of the way these governments treated Muslims.
Officials said Bickford traveled with Amtrak from Boston to New York on December 29.
He added that law enforcement said he saw New York as a target just before he left for the city and had solidified his plans of attack when he arrived, saying that women and children would be banned.
Relative reported three weeks before attack
Bickford, without a criminal record, was known to law enforcement when he went to New York: Federal agents interviewed him in mid-December, after briefing four law enforcement sources after a relative had warned them of his revolutionary support for Islam. said about the investigation.
Law enforcement sources told law enforcement they were concerned that the relative, whose relationship to Bickford was not immediately clear, was depressed and not taking his medication.
According to authorities, Bickford referred to non-believers as “kuffar” in his diary and stated that he wanted to die for his religion.
Law enforcement officials detailed who he wanted his property to go to and where he wanted to be buried if he died in the attack. He also wrote that he disappointed his mother and hoped that his brothers would join him in the fight for Islam.
According to sources, Bickford also made pro-jihad statements from his hospital bed following the New Year’s Eve attack.
New details emerge
Officials said Bickford had passed through Central Park just before the December 31 attack, but it was unclear where he was just before the attack.
Four law enforcement officials said investigators were also investigating whether Bickford was staying at the homeless shelter when he arrived in New York.
During the attack, which occurred shortly after 10 p.m. on West 52nd Street and Eighth Avenue, just outside the high-security checkpoints that celebrants had to pass through, Bickford chanted “Allahu Akbar”, an Islamic phrase meaning “God is greatest.” shouted. security sources said.
Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said on Sunday that the attack began after a man tried to hit a police officer in the head with a knife, and then stabbed two police officers in the head with a knife. Sewell said Bickford was shot and arrested by the police.
Three officers were hospitalized; one had a skull fracture and the other a bad cut. All three were discharged from Bellevue Hospital overnight.
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com.