A man who attacked a New York City police officer with a knife in June was motivated by the Islamic State militant group’s materials he viewed online, federal prosecutors said as they brought robbery and weapons charges against him Wednesday.
Dzenan Camovic, 20, of Brooklyn, N.Y., attacked the officer with a knife to his neck on the night of June 3, according to prosecutors, allegedly shouting “Allahu akbar” repeatedly during the attack. He also took the injured officer’s gun and used it to shoot a responding NYPD officer.
Both injured officers survived the attack.
“We know that he possessed a significant volume of materials that demonstrates his interest in and support for violent Islamist extremism, including materials related to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS),” Attorney General William Barr said in a statement, using an Arabic term for Greater Syria or the Levant.
But investigators have met “evidentiary roadblocks” in their attempts to learn more about Camovic’s plans and potential co-conspirators, Barr said, due to his use of encrypted communications platforms and the dark web.
Prosecutors asked the judge to keep Camovic detained before trial based on his demonstrated “interest in and support for violent Islamic extremism,” according to court filings. When Camovic’s bedroom was searched, they found CDs and thumb drives containing audio and video files of lectures from Anwar al-Awlaki, as well as ISIS related propaganda, they said. Al-Awlaki was a U.S. born cleric who inspired attacks on America and was killed in a U.S. airstrike in September 2011. Several terrorists, including the Boston Marathon bombers, have cited or admitted to listening to the noted jihadist’s sermons and speeches.
According to the prosecutor’s filing, Camovic told a medical worker at Kings County Hospital on the night of the attacks that he killed two police officers and “my religion made me do it.”
Camovic faces a maximum of life in prison if he is convicted.
Adiel Kaplan contributed.