A man accused of attacking police with a machete near New York’s Times Square on New Year’s Eve is now facing federal terrorism charges, federal authorities announced late Tuesday.
Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a release that Trevor Thomas Bickford was now charged with federal crimes in connection with his self-declared efforts to wage jihad by killing U.S. government officials and his knife attack on three police officers in Times Square.
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Bickford was already charged with attempting to murder police officers, assault and attempted assault in state court in Manhattan. If convicted, he faces a mandatory life sentence.
State prosecutors have said Bickford shouted “Allahu akbar” at about 10 p.m. before striking one officer in the head and attempting to grab another officer’s gun. He was shot by police during the confrontation and was held without bail after he was arraigned by video from a Manhattan hospital.
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The Legal Aid Society, a public defender organization representing Bickford, has urged the public “to refrain from drawing hasty conclusions and to respect the privacy of our client’s family.”
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams called the New Year’s Eve assault on the police officers a “senseless attack.”
Bickford, 19, of Wells, Maine, began studying radical Islamic ideology last summer, authorities said.
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They said he decided in November to wage jihad against U.S. officials and officials of other governments he thought to be anti-Muslim.
He was charged with four counts of attempted murder of officers and employees of the U.S. government and people assisting them. Each charge carries a potential penalty of 20 years in prison.