Michael Robert Solomon, 30, and Benjamin Ryan Teeter, 22, were charged with conspiring and attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, the Department of Justice said in a Friday press release. Both men, who proclaim to be part of the extremist anti-government Boogaloo movement, were taken into custody on Thursday evening and have been remanded in Minneapolis pending a formal hearing next week.
The Boogaloo scene generally trends right-wing or fringe libertarian, with many of its memes and aesthetic markers borrowed from more explicitly racist alt-right and 4chan culture. The movement is broadly anti-government and talks often of sparking a civil war.
“This case can only be understood as a disturbing example of the old adage, ‘The enemy of your enemy is your friend,’” Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers for the National Security Division said in a press release announcing the charges. “No matter what witch’s brew of ideological motivations inspire those who seek to engage in terrorist activity and harm our country and our fellow citizens, the National Security Division is committed to identifying and holding them accountable.”
According to the criminal complaint, the pair, who allegedly belong to a Boogaloo Boys sub-group called “Boojahideen,” sought to supply weaponry to Hamas and use violence against cops, government officials and government property “to overthrow the U.S. government.”
In the wake of the May death of George Floyd, Solomon and Teeters, both spoke publicly about arming themselves and guarding local business and homes in Minneapolis, apparently to protect property and protesters from law enforcement—the group they claim to despise.
Prosecutors allege that a witness saw Solomon, Teeters, and other members of the “Boogaloo Bois and Boojahideen” discussing carrying out violence against cops and other targets to achieve their goal of “overthrowing the government and replacing its police forces.”
The witness said the pair also had large quantities of ammunition and firearms, and at least one member was carrying it through a residential neighborhood in Minneapolis.
Separately, the men allegedly met with individuals they thought were members of Hamas, the militant organization that has ruled the Gaza Strip for years. In reality, they met with an FBI informant and an undercover agent involved in an investigation into the pair.
“In audio-recorded conversations, Solomon and Teeter expressed that Hamas shares anti-U.S. government views that align with their own views,” prosecutors said in the press release. “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.”
Prosecutors alleged Solomon and Teeter shared with the FBI informant and another person they believed to be a “more senior” member of Hamas—who was actually an undercover FBI agent—their ideas about destroying government monuments, raiding a North Carolina white supremacist headquarters, and targeting several politicians and media figures.
The pair also allegedly expressed a desire to make unmarked gun parts and created untraceable weapons, including suppressors. On July 30, prosecutors say the pair delivered five suppressors, or an attachment that reduces the sound of a firearm, to the undercover FBI agent and “expressed their desire to manufacture additional suppressors and fully-automatic weapons for Hamas.”
Later, the “Boogaloo Bois” also negotiated with the purported Hamas member for five additional suppressors for $1,800. The pair also delivered a “drop-in auto sear,” or a part designed to convert a firearm into an automatic weapon, believing both the suppressors and the gun adapter 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,” U.S. Attorney Erica H. MacDonald said in a statement.
On June 4, Teeter was interviewed by CNN about his affiliation with the Boogaloo movement, telling the network he was at home in North Carolina when he got an “alert” from the movement to join the protests in Minneapolis about 18 hours away. Teeter, who also attended protests against COVID-19 lockdowns in North Carolina, claimed to CNN that he wasn’t “part of a Nazi group” but was a non-voting, “left anarchist” and a member of the LGBT community.
He claimed to CNN that his main mission in traveling to Minneapolis was to protect protesters from police abuse and white supremacists—two groups he said he despised.
“If people are going to initiate deadly force against us, we need to be willing and able to initiate deadly force in return,” Teeter said, adding that he and others in the group stood guard outside local businesses in Minneapolis.
In a July 18 interview with the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Solomon also said he joined an armed group clad in military gear guarding Minneapolis businesses, and was prepared to shoot authorities if they approached any homes under guard. The 30-year-old, who is said to manage the maintenance division of a local property management company, said he rejected any association to white supremacy and insisted the hostility of Minnesota’s “Boogaloo Bois” was directed towards law enforcement.
“We know we have a target [on us], that’s why we don’t meet up in big groups because we know we’re probably going to get raided,” said Solomon. He described himself as an “an armed redneck” who joined the Boogaloo movement after dabbling in right-wing conservatism and libertarianism. “We know a lot of us are probably going to die.”
CNN also reported that Teeter’s social media posts included photos of him in a flak jacket, memes lamenting police brutality, and posts ridiculing both President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. He also had several posts about the Boogaloo dream of a second civil war.
Teeter has a pending charge for discharging a firearm in New Hanover County, North Carolina, according to court records. He told CNN it was an accident while cleaning his weapon.