ST. PAUL — Federal authorities say two anti-government extremists attempted to conspire with a foreign terrorist organization and hoped to carry out acts of violence against police officers and others in Minneapolis during the civil unrest following the death of George Floyd in late May.
The U.S. Department of Justice on Friday, Sept. 4 announced federal criminal charges against Michael Solomon, 30, and Benjamin Teeter, 22, of New Brighton, Minn., and Hampstead, N.C., respectively.
The two men expressed to undercover sources their desires to commit acts of violence against police officers, government officials and property in the Twin Cities and beyond in hopes of overthrowing the U.S. government, according to a Friday news release from the DOJ.
The DOJ says that Solomon and Teeter are members of the so-called "Boogaloo Bois," a domestic, extremist and "loosely connected group of individuals who espouse violent anti-government sentiments." Members believe that a "Boogaloo" — code for a second civil war — is upon the United States, and have a desire to overthrow the U.S. government. Solomon and Teeter are allegedly members of the sub-group "Boojahideen," as well, according to the Department of Justice.
While Solomon is from Ramsey County, Teeter traveled to Minnesota from his home in North Carolina after the civil unrest broke out in Minneapolis and St. Paul in late May. According to the criminal complaint, Teeter posted publicly on Facebook on May 26, "Lock and load boys. Boog flags are in the air, and the national network is going off."
According to a criminal complaint, the FBI began investigating Solomon and Teeter after a witness informed the FBI that Solomon was seen openly carrying firearms in a residential Minneapolis neighborhood during the unrest. He reportedly told the witness that he and fellow members of the Boojahideen were "willing to protect (the witness) from the police, white supremacists and looters," and his mission was to "get the police out of the city."
The witness continued to interact with both Solomon and Teeter over the course of several days, and the two said they possessed "substantial quantities of firearms and ammunition" with a desire to commit "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," according to the DOJ.
At one point, according to the complaint, the witness heard Solomon and Teeter discuss a plan to attack a National Guard Armory to steal weapons and bombs for the Boojahideen. Teeter reportedly boasted of a connection within the National Guard who he believed would support the Boojahideen in such a raid.
The two also reportedly discussed plans to attack a Minnesota county courthouse because it was "a symbol of the unjust laws that America upholds" and had "low security," according to the complaint.
In early June, the FBI began receiving information about Solomon, Teeter and other Boogaloo Bois through a confidential human source, or CHS, according to the Justice Department. Solomon and Teeter were led to believe that the CHS was a member of Hamas, a foreign terror organization. Per the DOJ, encrypted text conversations and audio-recorded conversations document Solomon and Teeter discussing what they thought were mutual anti-U.S. government views with the CHS.
The defendants reportedly believed they could have a mutually beneficial relationship with the CHS and Hamas, saying they were willing to become "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." According to transcripts of the recorded conversations in the criminal complaint, Solomon called this "an investment into our future."
According to transcripts in the criminal complaint, Solomon said he and Teeter would be assets to Hamas because, "To you and your friends, we've got to be pretty valuable because two American-born white boys, right? We can move around like nothing. I can take anything anywhere."
On June 6 and 7, the CHS reportedly met with Solomon, Teeter and one other associate at a residence in the Twin Cities, and the men at one point began loading ammunition into magazines while wearing gloves.
When they discussed the potential of a gunfire exchange with police, Solomon said, "I'm not going to stop. (...) I'm going to take out whoever initiated the violence, and then I'm going to hang out in the area (...) and then I'm going to take out the next thing that shows up. And I'm going to keep going until I'm not taking out people anymore."
The defendants then reportedly told a fourth person who they believed to be a more senior member of Hamas — who was in fact an undercover FBI agent — about their desires to destroy government monuments, raid a white supremacist organization's headquarters in North Carolina and target politicians and members of the media.
According to transcripts, Solomon said, "(A)s soon as we, you know, mark the politicians that we want to. I'd be fine with going after the media after that. 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."
The two defendants also negotiated weapons sales with the undercover agent, claiming they were able to manufacture unmarked, unregistered and untraceable weapons and gun parts. They delivered the agent five suppressors, as well as "drop in auto sear," a part designed to convert a weapon to shoot automatically. Solomon and Teeter reportedly expressed a desire to produce fully automatic weapons for Hamas, which they believed would be used overseas to attack Israeli and U.S. soldiers. The defendants and the undercover agent negotiated a price of $1,800 for five additional suppressors.
Solomon and Teeter were taken into federal custody Thursday night, Sept. 3, and appeared before Magistrate Judge Tony Leung in the U.S. District Court in Minneapolis Friday, Sept. 4. They are each being charged with conspiring and attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. Leung ordered the defendants to remain in custody pending a formal detention hearing scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 9.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, with assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives as part of the U.S. Attorney General’s Task Force to Combat Violent Anti-Government Extremism, launched in June of this year.