National News Desk

New Year’s Eve attack near Times Square likely motivated by Islamic extremism, police say

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(NEW YORK) — The Maine teen charged in the New Year’s Eve knife attack near Times Square on New York City police officers is due in court as soon as Tuesday to face attempted murder and attempted assault charges.

Trevor Bickford, 19, of Wells, Maine, carried out what a senior police official told ABC News was a terror attack likely motivated by Islamic extremism.

“He knew what he was doing. He knew why he was doing it and he thought he would die in the attack,” Thomas Galati, NYPD Chief of Intelligence and Counterterrorism, told ABC News. “He did yell out ‘Allahu Akbar.'”

Galati said the FBI interviewed Bickford last month in Maine after his mother reported her concern that her son was becoming radicalized. The FBI determined Bickford wanted to fight in Afghanistan and placed him on a federal watch list to prevent him from travelling overseas.

Instead, Bickford acquired a large sum of cash, packed a Gurkha knife and boarded a train to New York on Dec. 29. He arrived with what Galati described as intent to carry out an attack on “police officers or anybody in uniform,” seeming to advance jihadist propaganda that has called for such attacks using low-tech tactics like stabbings.

A diary found at the scene indicated Bickford thought he would die a martyr, law enforcement sources told ABC News. He ended up shot in the shoulder by an officer on the force just eight months.

“So the event happens outside the secure zone, not inside Times Square,” Galati said. “Means that our plan works.”

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