Two men are facing terrorism charges in Minnesota after federal authorities said they engaged in activity to further their desire to overthrow the United States government. In doing so, they conspired with individuals they believed to be members of Hamas.
The Justice Department announced Friday a federal criminal complaint charging Michael Robert Solomon, 30, of New Brighton, and Benjamin Ryan Teeter, 22, of Hampstead, North Carolina, with conspiring and attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, Hamas.
The criminal complaint alleges that the two defendants sought to use violence against the police, other government officials and government property as part of their desire to overthrow the government. While planning these activities, Solomon and Teeter met individuals whom they believed to be members of the foreign terrorist group Hamas.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) narrative states that Solomon and Teeter sought to join forces and provide support, including in the form of weapons accessories, to Hamas because they believed that the organization shared the same desire to harm the United States.
According to the allegations in the criminal complaint and law enforcement affidavit, in late May of 2020, the FBI initiated an investigation into Solomon and Teeter, two members of the “Boogaloo Bois,” and a sub-group called the “Boojahideen.”
The DOJ describes the Boogaloo Bois as a loosely-connected group of individuals who espouse violent anti-government sentiments. The term “Boogaloo” itself references a supposedly impending second civil war in the United States and is associated with violent uprisings against the government. Solomon and Teeter proclaim themselves to be members of the Boogaloo Bois, the DOJ statement said.
According to the allegations in the criminal complaint and law enforcement affidavit, during the civil unrest in the Twin Cities following the death of George Floyd, according to a witness, Solomon was openly carrying firearms in a residential neighborhood in Minneapolis. Solomon and Teeter interacted with the witness over the course of several days.
The witness told FBI agents that Solomon and Teeter possessed firearms and substantial quantities of ammunition and that Solomon, Teeter, and other members of the Boogaloo Bois and Boojahideen discussed committing acts of violence against police officers and other targets in furtherance of the Boojahideen’s stated goal of overthrowing the government and replacing its police forces.
Further, the charges allege that in early June, the FBI received information about Solomon, Teeter, and other members of the Boogaloo Bois and the Boojahideen through a confidential human source (“CHS”), whom the defendants believed to be a member of Hamas. In audio-recorded conversations, Solomon and Teeter expressed that Hamas shares anti-U.S. government views that align with their own views. Solomon and Teeter also expressed their desire to employ themselves as “mercenaries” for Hamas as a means to generate cash for the Boogaloo Bois/Boojahideen movement, including funding for recruitment and purchasing land for a training compound.
Solomon and Teeter shared with the CHS, and another individual whom they believed to be a more senior member of Hamas (and who was actually an undercover employee of the FBI), their ideas about destroying government monuments, raiding the headquarters of a white supremacist organization in North Carolina, and targeting politicians and members of the media.
Solomon and Teeter also expressed their ability to manufacture unmarked parts for guns and create unregistered and untraceable weapons, including suppressors. On July 30, Solomon and Teeter delivered to the individual they believed to be a senior member of Hamas five suppressors and expressed their desire to manufacture additional suppressors and fully automatic weapons for Hamas.
Solomon and Teeter later negotiated with the individual a price of $1,800 for five additional suppressors. Solomon and Teeter also delivered to the individual a “drop in auto sear” (“DIAS”), a part designed and intended for use in converting a weapon to shoot automatically. Solomon and Teeter believed the suppressors and the DIAS would be used by Hamas overseas to attack Israeli and U.S soldiers.
“The defendants believed their anti-U.S. government views aligned with those of Hamas, a foreign terrorist organization, and actively developed plans to carry out violence in Minnesota and elsewhere,” said U.S. Attorney Erica H. MacDonald.
Solomon and Teeter were taken into custody late last week and made their initial court appearances Friday before Magistrate Judge Tony N. Leung in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Both defendants were ordered to remain in custody pending a formal detention hearing, which is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020.
This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, with assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew R. Winter, and Trial Attorneys George Kraehe and Phil Viti of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.
This case falls within the purview of U.S. Attorney General William Barr’s Task Force to Combat Violent Anti-Government Extremism. Launched in June 2020, the Task Force is dedicated to supporting the investigation and prosecution of any person or group who commits violence in the name of an anarchist ideology.
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