Warren wants probe into whether former U.S. soldiers worked as assassins for UAE

Warren wants probe into whether former U.S. soldiers worked as assassins for UAE
© Greg Nash

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenIt's time to shut down industrial animal farming The Hill's Morning Report - Protesters' defiance met with calls to listen Biden wins DC primary MORE (D-Mass.) is calling for an investigation into whether former U.S. service members engaged in assassination attempts while working for the United Arab Emirates.

"If the report that these Americans coordinated as paid mercenaries to kill individuals abroad is accurate, it raises questions about potential criminal liability for the participants — and for any U.S. government official who may have been aware of or endorsed these activities," Warren wrote in an Oct. 19 letter to the Department of Justice first obtained by BuzzFeed News.

Warren cited BuzzFeed's earlier reporting that said the UAE in 2015 hired U.S. defense company Spear Operations Group to carry out assassinations in Yemen.

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The company reportedly hired former U.S. special operations soldiers to complete the contract.

Abraham Golan, the company's founder, told BuzzFeed, "There was a targeted assassination program in Yemen. I was running it. We did it. It was sanctioned by the UAE within the coalition.”

The UAE is working alongside Saudi Arabia and seven other countries to fight a proxy war against Iran in Yemen, where the U.S. has backed the Saudi-led coalition.

In her letter, Warren pointed to the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, which makes it illegal for a person on U.S. soil to conspire to murder, kidnap or maim someone abroad, if doing so would be illegal in the U.S. The statute also criminalizes a conspiracy to murder, mutilate or maim individuals who are not active participants in hostilities.

Warren sent an additional letter to Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoFired State Department watchdog says Pompeo aide attempted to 'bully' him over investigations Ousted watchdog says he told top State aides about Pompeo probe 7 GOP senators slam State Dept for 'slow and inefficient policy' on passports MORE, asking for "information on whether any State Department official knew of the reported direct participation of Americans" in the assassinations.

A State Department spokesperson confirmed receipt of Warren's letter.

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"We are disturbed by claims that private corporations have recruited former American military personnel to participate in the sort of operations described in recent media reports," the spokesperson wrote in an email.

The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Updated 5:49 pm.