#AceNewsReport – May.06: A Minnesota man pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to provide material support and resources, namely property, services and weapons, to what he believed was Hamas, a designated foreign terrorist organization, for use against Israeli and U.S. military personnel overseas.
According to court documents, Michael Solomon, 31, of New Brighton, Minn., was a member of the “Boogaloo Bois,” a group of individuals who espouse violent anti-government sentiments. In late May 2020, the FBI initiated an investigation into Solomon and co-defendant Benjamin Ryan Teeter, both members of the “Boogaloo Bois,” and a sub-group called the “Boojahideen.”
According to court documents, on June 10, 2020, Solomon and Teeter met with a confidential human source (CHS), whom the defendants believed to be a member of Hamas. During this meeting, Solomon and Teeter proposed assisting Hamas as a means of furthering the goals of the Boogaloo Bois. Throughout the course of the conspiracy, Solomon used encrypted messaging applications to communicate with Teeter and the CHS about various aspects of the conspiracy.
On June 28, 2020, Solomon, Teeter and the CHS met an undercover employee of the FBI (UCE) that Solomon believed was a member of Hamas. During this meeting, Solomon and Teeter proposed manufacturing suppressors, untraceable firearms and fully automatic firearms for Hamas.
On July 6, 2020, Solomon and Teeter purchased a drill press for the purpose of manufacturing suppressors for Hamas. Solomon admitted that he and Teeter had planned to use the drill press to also manufacture suppressors for members of the Boogaloo Bois. Solomon and Teeter brought the drill press to Solomon’s home and later used the drill press to manufacture five suppressors.
On July 30, 2020, Solomon and Teeter delivered the suppressors to the CHS and UCE believing those devices would be used by the militant wing of Hamas. During that meeting, the defendants agreed to manufacture additional suppressors for Hamas believing that the next batch of suppressors would be used against Israeli and U.S. military personnel overseas.
Solomon admitted that he and Teeter again met the UCE on Aug. 29, 2020. During this meeting, the defendants gave the UCE a 3-D printed “auto sear” believing that the auto sear would be used by Hamas to convert semi-automatic rifles into fully automatic rifles. At this time, Solomon and Teeter agreed to obtain, and did obtain, another order of auto sears for the CHS and the UCE.
Solomon pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization. Solomon faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Acting U.S. Attorney W. Anders Folk for the District of Minnesota; Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers for the Justice Department’s National Security Division; and Special Agent in Charge Michael Paul of the FBI’s Minneapolis Field Office made the announcement after Senior U.S. District Judge Michael J. Davis accepted the plea.
The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force is investigating the case, with assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Trial Attorneys George Kraehe and Felice John Viti of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew R. Winter of the District of Minnesota are prosecuting the case.
Daunte Wright shooting: Dozens arrested in fresh unrest in Minnesota: Protesters in the city of Brooklyn Center defied a curfew and threw objects at police, who responded with flash grenades and tear gas after 17 hours ago: Police release footage of arrest and shooting’
Police said Daunte Wright, 20, was shot and died after an officer mistook her gun for a Taser during a traffic stop: The shooting came as the high-profile George Floyd murder trial continues.
Derek Chauvin’s defence team on Monday asked for jury members to be sequestered – separated from other people – as they might be swayed by the latest events. The judge denied the request.
Prosecutors expect to decide Wednesday whether to charge a white former police officer who fatally shot a Black man during a traffic stop in a Minneapolis suburb, sparking nights of protests and raising tensions amid the <a href=”https://apnews.com/article/police-trials-minneapolis-racial-injustice-death-of-george-floyd-877dc5632fc03037131977c61af6865d”>nearby murder trial</a> of the ex-officer charged with killing George Floyd.Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter and Police Chief Tim Gannon <a href=”https://apnews.com/73b1af26c9ed5d437988d8d1c72bb311″>resigned Tuesday</a>, two days after Potter shot 20-year-old Daunte Wright. Gannon has said he believed Potter mistakenly grabbed her pistol when she was trying to pull out her Taser.Brooklyn Center <a href=”https://apnews.com/article/race-and-ethnicity-death-of-daunte-wright-liberia-shootings-police-0937e6536a5a3ce28ec5d20cb336565f”>Mayor Mike Elliott</a> said at a news conference that the city had been moving toward firing Potter, a 26-year veteran, when she resigned.
Elliott said he hoped her resignation would “bring some calm to the community,” but that he would keep working toward “full accountability under the law.”Washington County Attorney Pete Orput told WCCO-AM that he had received information on the case from state investigators and hoped to have a charging decision on Wednesday. Orput did not respond to a message from The Associated Press. While the shooting happened in Hennepin County, prosecutors referred the case to nearby Washington County — a practice county attorneys in the Minneapolis area adopted last year in handling police deadly force cases.“We have to make sure that justice is served, justice is done. Daunte Wright deserves that. His family deserves that,” Elliott said.But police and protesters faced off once again after nightfall Tuesday, with hundreds of protesters gathering again at Brooklyn Center’s heavily guarded police headquarters, now ringed by concrete barriers and a tall metal fence, and where police in riot gear and National Guard soldiers stood watch.
About 90 minutes before a 10 p.m. curfew, state police announced over a loudspeaker that the gathering had been declared unlawful and ordered the crowds to disperse. That quickly set off confrontations, with protesters launching fireworks toward the station and throwing objects at police, who launched flashbangs and gas grenades, and then marched in a line to force back the crowd.“You are hereby ordered to disperse,” authorities announced, warning that anyone not leaving would be arrested. The state police said the dispersal order came before the curfew because protesters were trying to take down the fencing and throwing rocks at police. The number of protesters dropped rapidly over the next hour, until only a few remained. Police also ordered all media to leave the scene.Gannon has said he believed Potter <a href=”https://apnews.com/article/shootings-police-minnesota-e6bb9c49b1bcdc244e3ec11d94137c82″>mistakenly grabbed her gun when she was going for her Taser.</a> But protesters and Wright’s family members say the shooting shows how the justice system is tilted against Black people, noting Wright was stopped for an expired car registration and ended up dead.
Brooklyn Center, a suburb just north of Minneapolis, has seen its racial demographics shift dramatically in recent years. In 2000, more than 70% of the city was white. Today, a majority of residents are Black, Asian or Hispanic.Elliott said he didn’t have information on the police department’s racial diversity at hand but that “we have very few people of color in our department.”After stopping Wright for the expired license plates, police tried to arrest him on an outstanding warrant. The warrant was for his failure to appear in court on charges that he fled from officers and possessed a gun without a permit during an encounter with Minneapolis police in June.Body camera footage released Monday shows Wright struggling with police when Potter…
The officer who shot Mr Wright was named on Monday as Kim Potter, 48, who has worked for Brooklyn Center Police for 26 years.
Mr Wright was pulled over on Sunday for a traffic violation, but there was a struggle when he tried to get back into his car.
After drawing her gun, apparently by mistake, the officer said: “Holy shit, I just shot him.”
LIVE UPDATES: Minnesota police, rioters clash after Daunte Wright shooting; dozens arrested
Police shot and killed Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, during a traffic stop Sunday
On today’s episode of ‘Special Report’, Bret tracks protests in Minnesota after female police officer mistakes firearm for taser and fatally shoots a 20-year old black man.
Minnesota authorities arrested about 40 people after rioters and police clashed for a second night in Brooklyn Center, Minn., authorities said during a news conference early Tuesday.
Hundreds gathered outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department Monday and defied curfew. They demanded justice for Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man fatally shot by police during a traffic stop.
The crowd chanted “Daunte Wright!” Some shouted obscenities at officers.
Authorities fired tear gas, and flash-bang grenades into the crowd after warning them that they were in violation of curfew. Some rioters retaliated by throwing smoke canisters back toward law enforcement, while others launched fireworks at the police lines, according to reports.
“Move back!” the police chanted. “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” the crowd chanted back.
Authorities said officers were shelled “pretty significantly,” with objects thrown from the crowd. A few officers were hit by debris and suffered minor injuries during the unrest, police said.
Minnesota State Patrol Col. Matt Langer said law enforcement officials made attempts to talk with protest leaders about figuring how to peacefully disperse the crowds, but “unfortunately, those efforts weren’t successful … so … [we] stood and protected that building.”
The roughly 40 arrests were made at the Brooklyn Center Police Department protest, Langer said. He added that people were arrested for violations including breaching curfew and rioting.
Looters also broke into several businesses at a strip mall near the police station, including a Dollar Tree store, according to reports.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz imposed a curfew from 7 p.m. until 6 a.m. Tuesday for counties that included Brooklyn Center, Minneapolis, and St. Paul, the state capital.
Earlier, police put up a fence and concrete barricades around the building’s perimeter. It was surrounded by local police, as well as, Minnesota National Guard and Minnesota State Patrol officers, the Star Tribune reported.
Amelia Huffman, the Minneapolis Police Department’s deputy chief for professional standards, said 13 people were also arrested in Minneapolis amid the demonstrations — four for burglaries, two were suspects in shots-fired incidents, six were for curfew violations, and one was on an outstanding warrant.
Huffman added that five businesses were burglarized in Minneapolis during the unrest.
Police shot and killed Wright during a traffic stop in a Minneapolis suburb on Sunday. The bodycam footage showed three police officers gathered near a stopped car that was pulled over an expired registration. Police attempted to arrest Wright for an outstanding warrant, leading to a struggle, followed by the fatal shooting.
Vice President Kamala Harris took to Twitter late Monday to comment on the shooting and said Wright’s family needs “justice and healing” as the investigation plays out.
“Prayers are not enough,” she tweeted. “Daunte Wright should still be with us. While an investigation is underway, our nation needs justice and healing, and Daunte’s family needs to know why their child is dead—they deserve answers.”
Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon said the officer who shot and killed Wright had intended to fire a Taser, not the handgun.
The officer was identified as Kimberly A. Potter, whose career with the Brooklyn Center Police Department has spanned more than 25 years, the Star Tribune reported. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said Monday night that Potter is on standard administrative leave.
Wright died of a gunshot wound to the chest, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s office said in a statement.
Follow below for more updates on the protests in Minnesota. Mobile users click here.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
What happened overnight?
The curfew went into force at 19:00 (midnight GMT) across four counties with a huge law enforcement deployment.
In a press briefing after midnight local time, Minnesota State Patrol colonel Matt Langer said officers had reached out to organisers to try to keep protests peaceful but “unfortunately… the organisers weren’t able to influence the desires of the crowd”.
Col Langer said officers had been “shelled pretty significantly with objects” including fireworks.Daunte Wright’s mother ‘He was my life’.
He said protesters had pushed against the fence of the Brooklyn Center police headquarters and a decision had been made to push back the crowd.
There were “sporadic” incidents of looting in the area and in other parts of Minneapolis and neighbouring St Paul.
In response to the unrest, US President Joe Biden said peaceful protest was “understandable” but added: “I want to make it clear again: there is absolutely no justification, none, for looting.”
Shortly before midnight, Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliot said he had spoken to Daunte Wright’s father and would “do everything to ensure justice is served”.
‘You took his life, for what?’
BBC’s Barbara Plett Usher reports from the scene
One sign at the protest captured the mood: “During the trial!!?” it read in bright orange letters.
“It’s ridiculous,” said the young man carrying it. “They know they have a delicate relationship with the black community right now and they should look to be making amends, not this.”
City officials had said the shooting could not have happened at a worse time, with tensions high over the George Floyd case.
Some protesters threw bottles and shot fireworks toward police lines. They vented their rage as officers in riot gear stood impassively. “You took his life, for what?” screamed a young woman.
“He was a son, he was a father, he was a black man that deserved to live.”
“Do you know the difference between a gun and a Taser?” shouted someone else. “Hell yeah,” roared the crowd, scorning the police chief’s belief that the shooting was a tragic mistake.
“There’s no room for accidents,” said one man. “The fact is that we lost another young black male to a police officer.’
What happened to Daunte Wright?
Police Chief Tim Gannon he believed the shooting of Mr Wright to be “an accidental discharge”.
He was stopped by police for having expired car registration plates and they then discovered an outstanding warrant out on him, so tried to arrest him, said the police chief.
During a news conference on Monday, he played a video from the body camera worn by the policewoman which shows Mr Wright trying to get back into his car as officers attempt to handcuff him on the side of the road.
An officer can then be heard saying “Taser, Taser, Taser” – normal police procedure before firing one of the stun guns. Mr Wright is seen to get into his car and drive away, while the same officer admits, using an expletive, to having shot him.
Katie WrightDaunte Wright’s mother, Katie, said her son called her as he was being pulled over by police
Fatally wounded, Mr Wright crashed a few streets away.
“It is my belief the officer meant to deploy their Taser but shot him with a single bullet,” Chief Gannon said, adding: “There’s nothing I can say to lessen the pain.”
Daunte Wright’s aunt, Naisha Wright, told CNN she did not believe the police account, saying officers knew the difference between a gun and a Taser.
She said: “I’ve owned an over 20,000 volt Taser. They don’t feel nothing like a gun.”
The officer has been placed on administrative leave – temporary leave with benefits and salary still paid.
Mayor Elliot has said she should be fired. He will make a decision on Tuesday about whether Chief Gannon will keep his job, the StarTribune reported.
How do police avoid mistaking a gun for a Taser?
Analysis by BBC Reality Check
Axon, the Taser manufacturer, says its weapons are designed to be distinguishable from handguns.
A company statement reported by the local media said it had “implemented numerous features and training recommendations to reduce the possibility of these incidents occurring…This includes building Taser energy weapons to look and feel different than a firearm.”
Police officers are typically trained to keep guns in a holster on their dominant side to avoid confusing it with their Taser, kept on the belt on the other side of the body.
“So if you’re right handed you carry your firearm on your right side and [you] carry your Taser on your left,” Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon told reporters.
Mistaking a gun for a Taser is relatively rare, but has happened before.
Comprehensive nationwide figures aren’t available. However, a law journal published in 2012 found nine examples of police officers accidentally using a handgun instead of a Taser between 2001 and 2009.
There have also been more recent instances of a suspect being shot instead of Tasered, such as in 2019 when a shoplifter was accidentally shot and seriously injured in St Louis, Missouri.
Why Minneapolis is tense
The trial of Derek Chauvin over the death of George Floyd has been under way in the city for two weeks now.
Mr Chauvin was filmed kneeling on Mr Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes during an arrest operation in Minneapolis last May. The footage of the incident sparked global protests against racism.
On Monday, Mr Chauvin’s lawyer Eric Nelson called for jury members to be asked about the Daunte Wright shooting to determine if what they had heard could affect their verdict: How long will Derek Chauvin trial last?
He repeated a call for the jury to be kept separate from the public, but Judge Peter Cahill said full sequestering would only start when closing arguments began.
Law enforcement officials have been bracing for possible unrest once the jury reaches a verdict.
#AceNewsReport – Mar.27: A Minnesota woman pleaded guilty today to one count of delivering national defense information to aid a foreign government:
‘According to court documents, Mariam Taha Thompson, 63, formerly of Rochester, Minnesota, worked as a contract linguist at an overseas U.S. military facility where she was entrusted with a top secret government security clearance. Thompson pleaded guilty to transmitting highly sensitive classified national defense information to a foreign national who she believed would provide the information to Lebanese Hizballah, a designated foreign terrorist organization’
“Thompson jeopardized the lives of members of the U.S. military as well as other individuals supporting the United States in a combat zone when she passed classified information to a person she knew was connected to Lebanese Hizballah, a foreign terrorist organization which intended to use the information to hurt this country,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers for the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “To describe this conduct is to condemn it. She will now be held to account for this disgraceful personal and professional betrayal of country and colleagues.”
“The United States entrusted the defendant with highly-sensitive classified information regarding one of its most critical tools — human intelligence in an active combat zone,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips for the District of Columbia. “The defendant’s complete betrayal of that trust placed the lives of American men and women on the battlefield, and their allies, in grave danger. Thompson’s arrest and prosecution demonstrate that those who intentionally compromise classified information that is entrusted to them will face swift and dire consequences.”
“It’s astounding that an American working for the U.S. military overseas would abandon her country in favor of terrorists,” said Assistant Director Alan E. Kohler Jr. for the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division. “The FBI and its partners placed a high priority on this case because the defendant provided classified defense information to a foreign terrorist organization, information that put members of the U.S. military in harm’s way.”
“Today’s plea is an example of the FBI’s work and commitment to protecting the United States and our national defense information,” said Assistant Director in Charge Steven M. D’Antuono for the FBI Washington Field Office. “Holding a top secret government security clearance bears a responsibility and commitment to our nation, and betrayal of that trust will not be tolerated. The FBI is charged with safeguarding our nation’s information and will work diligently, along with our partners, to protect intelligence and national security information and relentlessly pursue those who choose to betray their country.”
During today’s plea hearing, Thompson admitted that, beginning in 2017, she started communicating with her unindicted co-conspirator using a video-chat feature on a secure text and voice messaging application. Over time, Thompson developed a romantic interest in her co-conspirator. Thompson learned that the unindicted co-conspirator had a family member who was in the Lebanese Ministry of the Interior, and that the unindicted co-conspirator claimed to have received a ring from Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary-general of Lebanese Hizballah.
In December 2019, while Thompson was assigned to a special operations task force facility in Iraq, the United States launched a series of airstrikes in Iraq targeting Kata’ib Hizballah, an Iranian-backed foreign terrorist organization. These airstrikes culminated in a Jan. 3, 2020, strike that resulted in the death of Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force commander Qasem Suleimani, as well as the founder of Kata’ib Hizballah, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
Following Suleimani’s death, the unindicted co-conspirator started asking Thompson to provide “them” with information about the human assets who had helped the United States to target Suleimani. Thompson admitted that she understood “them” to be Lebanese Hizballah, including an unnamed high-ranking military commander.
After receiving this request for information in early January 2020, Thompson began accessing dozens of files concerning human intelligence sources, including true names, personal identification data, background information and photographs of the human assets, as well as operational cables detailing information the assets provided to the U.S. government. Thompson used several techniques to pass this information on to the unindicted co-conspirator, who told her that his contacts were pleased with the information, and that the Lebanese Hizballah military commander wanted to meet Thompson when she came to Lebanon.
When she was arrested by the FBI on Feb. 27, 2020, Thompson had used her access to classified national defense information to provide her co-conspirator with the identities of at least 10 clandestine human assets; at least 20 U.S. targets; and multiple tactics, techniques and procedures. Thompson intended and had reason to believe that this classified national defense information would be used to the injury of the United States and to the advantage of Lebanese Hizballah.
Thompson faces a maximum sentence of up to life imprisonment. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only. The sentencing of a defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Today’s guilty plea was the result of the significant cooperation between law enforcement, the Department of Defense and the intelligence community in the successful resolution of this investigation led by the FBI Washington Field Office.
National Security Division Trial Attorneys Jennifer Kennedy Gellie of the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section and Jennifer Levy of the Counterterrorism Section, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia John Cummings are prosecuting the case.