A Plot To Injure Or Kill Myanmar’s Ambassador to The United Nations



Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today the guilty plea of YE HEIN ZAW, a citizen of Myanmar, for his role in a conspiracy to assault and make a violent attack upon Myanmar’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations.  ZAW pled guilty today in White Plains federal court before U.S. District Judge Philip M. Halpern.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “As he admitted in court today, Ye Hein Zaw participated in a plot to injure or kill Myanmar’s ambassador to the United Nations in a planned attack that was to take place on American soil.  Zaw now awaits sentencing for his crime.  I commend the tireless efforts of our law enforcement partners at all levels of government to ensure the safety of foreign diplomats and officials in the United States and bring the perpetrators of this plot to justice.”

According to the Information to which ZAW pled guilty, the complaint that was filed in this case, and statements made during court proceedings:

Between at least in or about July 2021 through at least on or about August 5, 2021, ZAW, a citizen of Myanmar residing in New York, conspired with others to injure or kill Myanmar’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations (the “Ambassador”).  During the conspiracy, a co-conspirator communicated with an arms dealer in Thailand (the “Arms Dealer”) who sells weapons to the Burmese military, which overthrew Myanmar’s civilian government in or about February 2021.  In the course of those conversations, the co-conspirator and the Arms Dealer agreed on a plan in which the co-conspirator would hire attackers to hurt the Ambassador in an attempt to force the Ambassador to step down from his post.  If the Ambassador did not step down, then the Arms Dealer proposed that the attackers hired by the co-conspirator would kill the Ambassador.

Shortly after agreeing on the plan, ZAW contacted the co-conspirator by cellphone and, using a money transfer app, transferred approximately $4,000 to the co-conspirator as an advance payment on the plot to attack the Ambassador.  Later, during a recorded phone conversation, ZAW and the co-conspirator discussed how the planned attackers would require an additional $1,000 to conduct the attack on the Ambassador in Westchester County, and, for an additional payment, the attackers could, in substance, kill the Ambassador.  In response, ZAW agreed, in substance, to pay the additional $1,000 and to try to obtain the additional money.

ZAW pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to assault and make a violent attack upon a foreign official, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.  The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

ZAW is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Halpern on May 10, 2022.

Read more:

U.S. Embassy Rangoon: Ambassador Derek Mitchell Concludes Burma Assignment (Updated)

Posted: 2:58 am EDT
Updated: 12:38 am EDT
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On March 15, Secretary Kerry issued a statement officially congratulating Htin Kyaw on his election as Burma’s next president. The Aung San Suu Kyi’s confidant is the the country’s first civilian president in five decades.  According to NYT, Aung San Suu Kyi is barred from the presidency by a clause in the military-drafted Constitution that forbids people with foreign relatives from holding the office. She has two sons who are British, as was her husband, Dr. Michael Aris who died in 1999.

On the same day, Ambassador Mitchell and his wife, Min also officially concluded their three and a half years in Burma, according to the embassy’s FB page, “at the same place where they started, with a visit to Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon.”  Ambassador Derek Mitchell served as a special representative to Myanmar (Burma) from August 2011 until he was appointed ambassador in June 2012. President Obama visited Burma, the first by a sitting U.S. president in 2012 and in 2014. hosted then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her visit in 2011, and President Barack Obama in his 2012 (the first by a sitting U.S. president) and 2014 visits.   Correction: Michael E. Thurston was the Chargè d’affaires to Burma in 2011/2012 and was the top representative in country when then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Burma in 2011. Apologies for the error.

The new Ambassador to Burma Scot Marciel was sworn-in by Secretary Kerry early this month.



Below is the U.S. Embassy’s Thingyan video from 2015 featuring Ambassador and Mrs. Mitchell with the mission staff and some photos:

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Related item:

Ambassador Mitchell’s Speech at MISIS (February 22, 2016)