Two self-proclaimed "Boogaloo Boys" have been charged with trying to sell weapons and parts to someone they thought was a member of Hamas.
Federal prosecutors also allege the two men considered becoming "mercenaries" for the terrorist group in order to boost and fund the Boogaloo movement, which is loosely made up of right-wing extremists who want to overthrow the government.
Michael Robert Solomon, 30, of North Carolina, and Benjamin Ryan Teeter, 22, of Minnesota sought the odd alliance not because of a similar ideology, federal prosecutors said, but instead tried to make Hamas connections because they believed the terrorist group's anti-US stance fit with their own anti-government conviction.
"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, of the National Security Division, said in a statement. "Thinking that they shared the same desire to harm the United States, they sought to join forces and provided support, including in the form of weapons accessories, to Hamas."
Solomon and Teeter were arrested Thursday and charged with conspiring to provide material support to a terrorist organization.
Solomon and Teeter are accused of being members of the "Boogaloo" movement, in which decentralized anti-government groups have called for a second Civil War and, at times, the overthrow of the government.
Often seen donning Hawaiian shirts underneath body armor and carrying firearms at protests across the US, the "movement" is believed to have evolved from online memes and is frequently linked to racism. Prosecutors say Solomon and Teeter referred to themselves as members of a subgroup called "Bojahideen," and often appeared at protests in Minneapolis against police violence.
During that time, prosecutors allege, the two openly carried firearms and talked about "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."
During one recorded conversation, Solomon allegedly talked about shooting at police until he ran out of ammo if he got into a confrontation.
"I'm going to take out whoever initiated the violence, and then I'm going to hang out in the area, you know, move and set up in a better location that's as close to the area as I can, and then I'm going to take out the next thing that shows up," he said. "Like if I get into a firefight, I'm getting into a firefight until i can't fight anymore. If I run out of ammo, I'll go to court."
On a Twitter account that appears to be belong to Teeter, the 22-year-old is seen in a video inside a car where he says police used force against a group of protesters after some crossed a police line.
"Apparently that means they get to start spraying and using not-lethal rounds on teh ground, including the vast majority of people who did absolutely nothing," he says in a video. "We need to get the word out and make sure that every Boojahideen in the area knows what's going on so they can respond appropriately to the situation."
In May, reporter Mukhtar Ibrahim spoke with an armed masked man who also described himself as being part of the "Boojahideen" group. The man appears to have a similar tattoo as Teeter on his right arm just below the wrist.
"We have people going out, we have people getting gassed, we have people getting tear-gassed and beaten," he said. "We're going to stand on the front lines and everything they throw at you we're getting ready to throw right back at them to protect the people going out and defending their rights."
He claimed the group had six members.
But prosecutors allege that in early June, the FBI was told by a confidential source who posed as a member of Hamas that Teeter and Solomon talked about becoming mercenaries for a terrorist group with the hopes of using that money to recruit more members and buy land to train them on.
The men also talked about "destroying government monuments, raiding the headquarters of a white supremacist organization in North Carolina, and targeting politicians and members of the media," according to the US Attorney's Office.
In another recorded conversation, Teeter allegedly talked about targeting a historical county courthouse in Minnesota because it was a "symbol of the unjust laws that America holds."
Teeter told the confidential informant that he wanted to hit the target at night to avoid hurting bystanders.
"I'd be fine with going after the media after that," Solomon said in another conversation, according to the criminal complaint. "I'm not necessarily talking about the journalists on the street. Yeah, they lie. I'm more talking, I just want to take out the top 20% people at each company."
In July 30, the two men also gave an undercover member of the FBI, whom they believed to be a member of Hamas, five suppressors for $1,800, and a "drop in auto sear" to make automatic weapons. The two also talked about getting the designated terrorist group more parts and weapons to attack Israeli and US soldiers overseas.
According to the complaint, the two men were also repeatedly recorded making threats against government figures and, at one point, talked about hanging politicians in front of the US Capitol.
"I want to like take down 20 senators while they're playing fucking baseball, right?" Soloman is recorded saying, according to the complaint. "I don't want to blow up a courthouse. I want to murder a bunch of US politicians. That's the statement I want to make."
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