A man who attacked New York City police officers with an ax had converted to Islam in recent years and the assault appears to have been a lone wolf terror attack, police said today.
One officer who was struck in the head with the ax by Zale Thompson on Thursday is in critical but stable condition, Police Commissioner William Bratton said. A second officer was also injured.
Thompson, 32, was shot and killed by two other officers as Thompson charged them with the ax, Bratton said.
The commissioner said that Thompson had converted to Islam two years ago.
"The father indicated to us he believed his son several years ago converted to become a Muslim, a self-proclaimed Muslim," Bratton said.
Deputy Commissioner John Miller, who is in charge of counterterrorism for the department, said a review of Thompson's computer showed that he had visited websites affiliated with radical groups, including al Qaeda, ISIS and al Shabaab.
"It appears from the electronic forensic piece of this, this is something he has been thinking about and thinking about with more intensity in recent days," Miller said.
He said Thompson was "self radicalized, self directed."
When asked if the ax assault was an act of terrorism, Miller said, "It appears at this point that it was in his mind."
The ax attack occurred the day after a lone gunman shot and killed a Canadian solider in Ottawa before he was shot dead by the Parliament's sergeant-at-arms.
Miller said the acts of individuals who commit acts of terror on their own "is one of the phenomenon we are facing."
He also said there was no indication that anyone else was involved.
New York police had previously said there was no indication that Thompson's attack was linked to terror.
Bratton said Thompson was involuntarily discharged from the military in 2003 and a "weaponized ax" - sharpened on both sides - and a knife was found during a search of his home.
The commissioner said that relatives described Thompson as a "recluse" and "depressed."