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Man Who Carried Out Machete Attack On NYPD Officers In Times Square On New Year’s Eve 2022 Sentenced To 27 Years In Prison

Trevor Bickford Traveled to the Times Square New Year’s Eve Celebration in 2022 for the Purpose of Killing U.S. Officials in the Name of Radical Islamic Jihad and Used a Machete-Style Knife to Attack Three NYPD Officers

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York; Merrick B. Garland, the Attorney General of the United States; Christopher A. Wray, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”); and James Smith, the Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Field Office of the FBI, announced that TREVOR BICKFORD was sentenced today to 27 years in prison for attempting to kill officers and employees of the U.S. Government and persons assisting them during his brazen attack using a machete-style knife against three New York City Police Department (“NYPD”) officers in Times Square on December 31, 2022.  BICKFORD pled guilty on January 11, 2024, before U.S. District Judge P. Kevin Castel, who imposed today’s sentence. 

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Inspired by radical Islamic extremism, Trevor Bickford brutally attacked three NYPD officers who were just doing their jobs by protecting the public during the Times Square New Year’s Eve festivities.  Thankfully, one officer’s quick-thinking actions stopped the defendant’s attack while minimizing risk to the innocent bystanders who easily might have become additional victims of the defendant’s heinous violence.  Less than a year and a half after his attack, Bickford has been convicted and now sentenced to 27 years in prison.  Bickford’s conviction and sentence demonstrate that cowardly acts of terrorism will be met with law enforcement’s unwavering resolve to protect New York City, our country, and our core values of freedom and democracy.” 

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said: “Today’s sentence holds Trevor Bickford accountable for his premeditated 2022 terrorist attack in Times Square during which he attempted to kill three NYPD officers in a violent rampage.  The Justice Department is deeply grateful to the NYPD for its quick actions and bravery in disrupting this New Year’s Eve attack, and for the work it does every day to keep New Yorkers safe.  The Justice Department will always stand by its state and local law enforcement partners as we work together to counter the threat of terrorism, and that includes being relentless in prosecuting those who seek to harm officers.”

FBI Director Christopher A. Wray said: “The defendant’s brutal ambush of three New York City police officers keeping watch over New Year’s Eve celebrations was a premeditated act of terrorism.  Police officers work tirelessly to protect the communities they serve and assaults on them are reprehensible.  He planned, prepared, and traveled to conduct a savage attack in support of his violent ideology, and now he is being held accountable for his actions.”

FBI Assistant Director in Charge James Smith said: “Today, Trevor Bickford was handed a deserved punishment for intentionally committing an act of terrorism against New York City and police officers sworn to protect it.  Thankfully, these brave police officers fulfilled their duty and stopped Bickford's brutal attack before he could cause more harm.  The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in New York remains determined to bring to justice anyone attempting to commit violence in the name of terrorism to ensure the safety of New York.”

According to court documents and statements made during court proceedings:

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.  He targeted one of the most densely populated areas in the U.S. at one of the most densely populated times possible: Times Square on New Year’s Eve.  It was there that BICKFORD ambushed 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 swung his blade at their heads, seriously injuring all three officers.  BICKFORD also tried to grab one of the NYPD officers’ guns during his attack.  One of the victims that BICKFORD struck managed to shoot BICKFORD in the shoulder, halting his brutal rampage before he could attack and possibly kill others.  BICKFORD later proudly declared that he carried out his attack to wage jihad and proclaimed 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 in the attack.  The machete-style knife, which has a blade more than a foot long, that BICKFORD used to carry out his attack is shown below:

BICKFORD’s violent rampage on December 31, 2022, was premeditated.  He consumed 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 contemplated 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 here in the United States.  This decision resulted in BICKFORD perpetrating his attack in Times Square on New Year’s Eve in 2022. 

Near the scene of the attack, law enforcement officers 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.”  In addition, BICKFORD had used an encrypted application and secure browser on his cellphone to conduct extensive research in advance of his attack, including research about al Qaeda (including internet searches for “Al Qaeda recruitment”); about waging jihad; about his eventual time (New Year’s Eve) and place (Times Square) of attack (including “how often do the police patrol in NYC” and “New Years Eve 2023 itinerary in New York City Times Square”); about potential weapons he could use to carry out his attack (including “[g]un buying laws for New York City” and “Do you need to pass a background check for a used gun”); and various ways to incapacitate, injure, and kill his potential targets (including “[w]hat are the terms for taking slaves in Islam” and whether Islam “permit[s] rape of female prisoners of war”).  Finally, less than an hour before his attack, BICKFORD watched an Al Qaeda propaganda video imploring viewers to “fight” as he finalized his targets.

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In addition to the prison term, BICKFORD, 20, of Wells, Maine, was sentenced to a lifetime of supervised release.

Mr. Williams praised the outstanding efforts of the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force of the FBI, which consists of investigators and analysts from the FBI, the NYPD, and over 50 other federal, state, and local agencies, and thanked the Counterterrorism Section of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division for their assistance.

This case is being handled by the Office’s National Security and International Narcotics Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew J.C. Hellman, Sarah L. Kushner, and Kaylan E. Lasky are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance from Trial Attorney D. Andrew Sigler of the Counterterrorism Section.

Contact

Nicholas Biase, Lauren Scarff, Shelby Wratchford(212) 637-2600

Updated May 9, 2024

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