Two self-described “Boogaloo Bois” have been charged with terrorism-related offenses after authorities said the men discussed attacking government officials and buildings and tried to work with people they believed to be members of Hamas.
Michael Robert Solomon, 30, of Minnesota, and Benjamin Ryan Teeter, 22, of North Carolina, were communicating with a “confidential human source” or an undercover FBI official, not Hamas, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota said Friday.
The men are each charged with one count of conspiring to provide and attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization.
Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers said Solomon and Teeter wanted to “overthrow the government.”
“This case can only be understood as a disturbing example of the old adage, ‘The enemy of your enemy is your friend,'” Demers said in a statement.
Solomon and Teeter are accused of discussing blowing up a Minnesota courthouse; they wanted to work as “mercenaries” for Hamas in order to get cash for a compound; and they wanted to build firearm suppressors, commonly called silencers, for the militant wing of Hamas, according to court documents.
They allegedly delivered five suppressors to an undercover FBI employee posing as a senior Hamas member and delivered a part used to make semi-automatic weapons fire automatically, according to the documents.
Federal prosecutors have described the “Boogaloo” movement as a “term used by extremists to signify a coming civil war and/or collapse of society.”
A federal magistrate judge in Minneapolis on Friday ordered Solomon and Teeter to be held in custody until at least a detention hearing next week.
An emailed request for comment from a public defender that court records show was appointed to represent the two men was not immediately returned Friday night.
An FBI agent wrote in an affidavit filed in the case that the federal law enforcement agency began an investigation into “Boogaloo Bois” it believed were discussing acts of violence and “maintaining an armed presence” in Minneapolis during unrest following the May 25 death of George Floyd, a Black man who died after a white police officer kneeled on his neck.
Solomon lives in New Brighton, which is near Minneapolis. Teeter traveled from North Carolina to Minnesota after posting on Facebook on May 26: “Lock and load boys. Boog flags are in the air, and the national network is going off,” according to court documents.
While the Boogaloo group is said to be loosely connected and is believed to have attracted supporters mostly in Facebook groups, several self-professed members have been charged nationwide in recent months for crimes surrounding Black Lives Matter protests.
Steven Carrillo has been charged in the killing of a federal security officer during protests in Oakland, California, in late May, and he has also been charged with killing a Santa Cruz County, California, sheriff’s deputy in an ambush in June.
He was arrested after that June ambush and before he was apprehended, Carrillo scrawled the word “boog” and “I became unreasonable” in his own blood on the hood of a vehicle he’d carjacked, officials said. Symbols on a ballistic vest that was found was also linked to the Boogaloo, officials said.
Carrillo has pleaded not guilty.
In Las Vegas, three men allegedly linked to the Boogaloo movement have been charged with state and federal crimes of conspiracy to cause destruction and possession of explosives during protests planned for May. Part of the alleged plan was to try to provoke a riot, officials have said.
The men have pleaded not guilty.
Teeter allegedly referred to himself as an “anarchist” in conversations with the government source, and Solomon allegedly said, “our goal is to tear it down,” according to court documents.
They allegedly talked about killing U.S. senators, with references to shooting them, according to an FBI affidavit.
At one point, Solomon said “for the future, I’d build a gallows in front of the … in front of the Congress building in D.C. and just start hanging politicians left and right,” according to the affidavit.
Teeter allegedly said that he wasn’t worried about security because “you can’t stop threats that you can’t see” and that he is skilled at shooting at long ranges.
Demers, the assistant attorney general, said in Friday’s statement that the government is committed to identifying and holding accountable anyone who wants to harm the U.S. “no matter what witch’s brew of ideological motivations” inspire them.