Hamas denies links with far-right US movement 'Boogaloo Bois'
Hamas has denied any connection with the far-right US movement the "Boogaloo Bois", accusing Washington of fabricating links to "discredit" the Palestinian movement.
US federal agents arrested two men associated with the Boogaloo Bois last week, for allegedly attempting to become Hamas assets, according to a Justice Department statement.
Michael Robert Solomon and Benjamin Ryan Teeter were taken into custody after recorded conversations claimed they were conspiring to become assets of Hamas, a Palestinian political movement designated as a terrorist group by the US in 1995.
In the voice recordings, the two men expressed views that the Hamas movement "shares anti-US government views that align with their own", the Justice Department said in a criminal complaint on Friday.
Hamas, in a statement on Saturday, denied any connection with the group or the two men.
"The Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas denies knowledge of the 'Boogaloo Bois' group or any of its members, and denounces the US administration attempt to link between the movement and any of these group members," the group said in a statement.
"This is a desperate attempt to discredit the movement at the request of Israel or its extremist leadership.
"We, in Hamas, are strongly aware of the oppression suffered by people of colour in America. We express our solidarity with them and hope one day their rights will be acknowledged, as well as our inalienable rights."
Boogaloo Bois is a loose-knit movement which shares followers with some neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups, as well as with libertarians and anarchists.
The movement is anti-police and anti-authority and promotes a "boogaloo" - a new civil war to overthrow the government.
Before their arrest, an undercover FBI agent posing as a senior member of Hamas met with the two men, court documents showed. Federal agents also learned of their alleged plan from a confidential informant, as well as from audio-recorded conversations.
The FBI was first alerted to Solomon, 30, and Teeter, 22, after they had attended an anti-racist protest in late May, the Justice Department said.
Witnesses told federal authorities that they were both seen carrying firearms at the time and had been discussing their membership with the Boogaloo Bois and their subgroup called the "Boojahideen".
According to witnesses, the men said they had intentions of "committing acts of violence against police officers" and had goals of "overthrowing the government and replacing its police forces", according to the criminal complaint.
'Two American-born white boys'
At some point in June, federal authorities also learned from a confidential informant and from audio-recorded conversations that Solomon and Teeter told someone they believed was a member of Hamas that they "desire to employ themselves as mercenaries" for the organisation, prosecutors said.
That is when an undercover FBI agent met with the two men, posing as a senior member of the Hamas movement.
During the meeting, Solomon allegedly told the agent that he and Teeter "would be an asset to Hamas", because they were "two American-born white boys, right?" the criminal complaint said.
Solomon and Teeter also allegedly told the undercover agent that they wanted to destroy "government monuments, raiding the headquarters of a white supremacist organisation in North Carolina, and targeting politicians and members of the media", prosecutors said.
They also discussed a self-defence plan. "If I have to shoot someone I'm not going to call the cops and stick around," Teeter said, according to prosecutors.
In a discussion with a confidential informant about a potential confrontation with police, court documents claim Solomon stated: "If we get to the point where we engage the police, 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, 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. And I'm going to keep going until I'm not taking out people anymore."
Speaking to an undercover agent, Solomon also said that "if we are able to accomplish our goals, the US would be f***ing done".
The complaint also said the men expressed the ability to manufacture unmarked, untraceable and unregistered parts for guns and weapons with $700 of equipment.
Solomon and Teeter will be held pending a formal detention hearing on Wednesday in the US District Court in Minneapolis.