Kyaw Moe Tun told CNN he was made aware of the alleged plot on Tuesday and reported it to the US Mission and law enforcement, believing it to be a credible threat. He said the FBI and New York police are now providing him with 24-hour security.
If Kyaw Moe Tun did not step down, the arms dealer allegedly proposed the attackers would kill him by tampering with the tires of the ambassador’s car so it would crash while he was inside, the complaint said.
After allegedly agreeing on the plan, Ye Hein Zaw is accused of transferring about $4,000 to Phyo Hein Htut as a advanced payment. Later, during a recorded phone conversation, the pair allegedly discussed how the attackers would need an additional payment of $1,000 to carry out the attack and “finish off” the ambassador, according to the complaint.
A volunteer security guard at the UN mission told the FBI that Phyo Hein Htut had approached him about the alleged plot, saying he had been in contact with the arms dealer in Thailand to allegedly hire a “hitman to kill or injure the ambassador.”
The alleged conspiracy took place between July and August 5, and the planned attack would take place in New York’s Westchester County, where the ambassador lives, the complaint said.
“As alleged in today’s federal charges, these defendants reached across borders and oceans in designing a violent plot against an international leader on United States soil,” NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said in a statement.
“But our NYPD investigators and prosecutors from the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York worked relentlessly with our law enforcement partners to bring them to justice before any harm could be done.”
When asked whether he believed the orders for the alleged attack to come from Myanmar’s military junta, the ambassador told CNN he could not speculate as to who was behind the plot, but that the incident would not put him off his work.
“Of course what happened is disturbing, but my day to day work has not been impacted,” Kyaw Moe Tun said. “I will continue what I have to do and this incident will not deter what I am doing for the country and for the people.”
Kyaw Moe Tun thanked the US government, State Department and law enforcement agencies for their “support, kind assistance,” and “professionalism” in responding to the incident.
“They saved my life and saved any harm from coming to me,” he said.
CNN’s Caitlin Hu contributed.