NEW YORK — A New York man who attacked a group of police officers with a hatchet this week has been found to have been a convert to Islam who studied beheadings and had a disdain for America and Christians.
Zale Thompson, 32, charged a group of four New York City police officers with a hatchet on Thursday as they were posing for a photograph. He struck Joseph Mecker, 24, in the arm and dealt Kenneth Healey, 25, a blow to the head. Mecker was treated at the hospital and released, but Healey remains in critical condition.
Thompson was shot dead on the scene by the other officers that witnessed the attack.
During a news conference on Friday, Police Commissioner William Bratton and NYPD Deputy Counterterrorism Chief John Miller declared the incident a terrorist attack. They outlined that Thompson had converted to Islam two years ago and had studied beheadings and other Islamic material online prior to the incident.
“The fact that he was walking around with a hatchet in the backpack makes it clear this individual had some sense of preparation,” Bratton stated.
“It appears, just from the electronic forensic piece of this, that this is something he has been thinking about for some time and thinking about with more intensity in recent days,” agreed Miller.
Some state that video footage of the attack shows Thompson staking out the officers from afar before pulling the hatchet from his backpack and then charging them with the weapon.
The FBI examined Thompson’s online activity on Friday and found that he had a disdain for Christians and westerners. He reportedly had made comments on Facebook and YouTube that characterized white Christians as being “aggressive and violent” and spoke against the “Christianized Negro” for becoming adherents of the religion “his slave master gave him.”
“If you’re looking for ‘perfect’ Muslims who never make any mistakes in their Jihad, then you will be looking in vain!” he wrote. “If the Zionists and the Crusaders had never invaded and colonized the Islamic lands after WW1, then there would be no need for Jihad! Which is better, to sit around and do nothing, or to Jihad fisabeelallah?”
Thompson also was upset about reports of police brutality and has a criminal history that includes six previous arrests.
“I’m very comfortable this was a terrorist attack,” Bratton stated, though noting that he would describe Thompson as being “self-directed in his activities” since he did not have any ties to ISIS or any particular group.
The incident occurred just a day after another Muslim convert, Michael Joseph Hall, who later changed his name to the Islamic Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, killed a soldier at Canada’s National War Memorial before opening fire in the parliament building, where he was shot dead by authorities.
On Monday, Martin Couture-Rouleau, who is being dubbed the “ISIL inspired terrorist” struck two members of the Canadian military with his car, killing one and injuring the other. He was likewise killed by police.