US militants arrested in staged plot

By: AFP      Published: 12:43 PM, 5 Sep, 2020
US militants arrested in staged plot

Two Americans who belong to the far-right movement known as Boogaloo Bois have been arrested after providing gun silencers to people they believed to be from the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, officials said Friday.

Michael Solomon, 30, and Benjamin Teeter, 22, have been charged with conspiring and attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, the Justice Department said.

Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, refuses to recognize Israel and is considered a terrorist organization by Israel and the United States.

Boogaloo Bois is a loose-knit movement that shares followers with some neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups, as well as with libertarians and anarchists.

The stridently anti-police and anti-authority movement promotes a "boogaloo" -- a new civil war to overthrow the government.

Few had heard of it before this year.

But the group drew attention after African American George Floyd was killed by police in May in Minneapolis, when its members joined street demonstrations as a ploy to attack police.

They are distinguished by their embrace of assault weapons and military tactical vests, sometimes worn over flowery Hawaiian shirts, an inside joke for the group.

The Justice Department said Solomon and Teeter, who admit belonging to Boogaloo Bois, were seen openly carrying guns in a Minneapolis neighborhood during the Floyd demonstrations and interacted with a witness who reported them to the FBI.

They later came into contact with a police informant they believed to be a representative of Hamas in the United States.

They proposed to act as "mercenaries" for Hamas and provide it with silencers and other gun parts in exchange for money to finance their own organization.

They were arrested after delivering silencers to an FBI agent posing as a more senior Hamas official.

"This case can only be understood as a disturbing example of the old adage, 'The enemy of your enemy is your friend,'" said Assistant Attorney General John Demers.

"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. They failed."