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Two American citizens with ties to a far-right extremist group have been charged with trying to support Hamas, a Palestinian terrorist group, and plotting violent attacks in Minnesota.
Michael Robert Solomon, 30 and Benjamin Ryan Teeter, 22, were taken into custody Thursday night in Minneapolis, the Justice Department said.
Prosecutors say the men are members of a group called the Boogaloo Bois, a faction of a subgroup known as the Boojahideen. They were allegedly conspiring with Hamas to sow discord amid racial justice protests in Minnesota by shooting cops, blowing up a courthouse and killing politicians.
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Michael Robert Solomon (Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office via AP)
The defendants allegedly built firearm suppressors that they believed they sold to Hamas and would be used overseas to attack Israeli and U.S. forces. They also offered to fight as “mercenaries” for the group to earn cash for new member recruitment and to buy land for a Boogaloo training compound, prosecutors said.
Solomon and Teeter met with an FBI informant acting as a member of Hamas and expressed that the terrorist group's mission aligned with their own anti-government views, according to John Demers, head of the Justice Department's National Security Division.
Authorities said the men hoped to execute a number of violent plans targeting law enforcement and government agencies during the protests following the death of George Floyd – an unarmed Black man who died in police custody after an officer kneeled on his neck for over eight minutes.
Benjamin Ryan Teeter (Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office via AP)
According to an affidavit, Teeter and Solomon came up with a plot to blow up a county courthouse in northern Minnesota to “make a statement," but then delayed that plan. Solomon later said: “I want to murder a bunch of U.S. politicians. That’s the statement I want to make.”
When the informant asked him to explain, Solomon said he would “build a gallows … in front of the Congress building in D.C. and just start hanging politicians left and right.”
Teeter said he can shoot from a distance, adding, “You can't stop threats that you can't see,″ the affidavit said.
The FBI has been investigating anti-government extremists as a major domestic terrorism threat. According to news reports, the bureau opened an investigation into the Boogaloo Bois in late May, following the police killing of George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis.
Solomon and Teeter appeared Friday in Minneapolis District Court on terrorism-related charges. A detention hearing is set for Wednesday. Information on their lawyers was not immediately available.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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