MINNEAPOLIS — A Hampstead man is one of two charged by the U.S. Justice Department for “conspiring and attempting to provide material support” to Hamas, “a designated foreign terrorist organization” and suspected of plotting violence against a range of targets including police, the government, high-ranking employees of media companies, and a North Carolina headquarters for a white supremacist group.
According to a press release from the DOJ, Benjamin Ryan Teeter, 22, of Hampstead and Michael Robert Solomon, 30, of Minnesota were taken into custody on Thursday and will be held until Wednesday, September 9, for a formal detention hearing.
The two allegedly espoused “ideas about destroying government monuments, raiding the headquarters of a white supremacist organization in North Carolina, and targeting politicians and members of the media.”
Both men considered themselves part of the anti-government Boogaloo Bois, specifically a sub-group known as the ‘Boojahideen,’ a portmanteau of Boogaloo and “mujahideen,” which refers to Islamic guerrillas fighting Jihad, most commonly used to describe the U.S.-backed Islamic opposition that toppled the Soviet-backed Communist state in Afghanistan.
Teeter was featured in a CNN profile of the Boogaloo Bois movement in early June, portions of which were run by WWAY locally.
‘My enemy’s enemy’
According to the criminal complaint and affidavits from law enforcement, in late May, the FBI initiated an investigation into Solomon and Teeter, two self-identified members of the “Boogaloo Bois,” and a sub-group called the “Boojahideen.” According to the FBI, the Boogaloo Bois are a “loosely- connected group of individuals who espouse violent anti-government sentiments. The term ‘Boogaloo’ itself references a supposedly impending second civil war in the United States and is associated with violent uprisings against the government, according to the DOJ.
In the DOJ statement, Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers described the two men’s support for Hamas as an unusual triangulation of alliances and enemies.
“This case can only be understood as a disturbing example of the old adage, ‘The enemy of your enemy is your friend,’” Demers said. “As alleged in the complaint, these defendants sought to use violence against the police, other government officials, and government property as part of their desire to overthrow the government. While planning these activities, the defendants met individuals whom they believed to be members of the foreign terrorist group Hamas. Thinking that they shared the same desire to harm the United States, they sought to join forces and provide support, including in the form of weapons accessories, to Hamas.”
The criminal complaint against Teeter and Solomon include evidence that the two conspired to commit acts of violence against the two “possessed firearms and substantial quantities of ammunition and that Solomon, Teeter, and other members of the Boogaloo Bois and Boojahideen discussed 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.”
In a recorded conversation, Solomon and Teeter, “Solomon and Teeter expressed that Hamas shares anti-U.S. government views that align with their own views. 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,” according to the DOJ.
In conversations with a confidential informant and an undercover FBI agent, the two shared “their ideas about destroying government monuments, raiding the headquarters of a white supremacist organization in North Carolina, and targeting politicians and members of the media.”
Solomon noted that his animus was aimed at the corporate structure of the media, rather than field journalists.
“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,” Solomon said, according to the criminal complaint.
During the investigation, Solomon and Teeter began an arms deal with the undercover agent, who they believed to be a senior Hamas agent.
“Solomon and Teeter also expressed their ability to manufacture unmarked parts for guns and create unregistered and untraceable weapons, including suppressors. On July 30, Solomon and Teeter delivered to the individual they believed to be a senior member of Hamas five suppressors and expressed their desire to manufacture additional suppressors and fully-automatic weapons for Hamas. Solomon and Teeter later negotiated with the individual a price of $1,800 for five additional suppressors. Solomon and Teeter also delivered to the individual a ‘drop in auto sear’ (‘DIAS’), a part designed and intended for use in converting a weapon to shoot automatically. Solomon and Teeter believed the suppressors and the DIAS would be used by Hamas overseas to attack Israeli and U.S soldiers.”
This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, with assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew R. Winter, and Trial Attorneys George Kraehe and Phil Viti of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section. This case falls with the purview of the Attorney General’s Task Force to Combat Violent Anti-Government Extremism. Launched in June 2020, the Task Force is dedicated to supporting the investigation and prosecution of any person or group who commits violence in the name of an anarchist ideology.