UNC to ask for National Security Council to be brought before JSC

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Opposition MP Dr Roodal Moonilal. – File photo

Opposition MP Dr Roodal Moonilal says the party will write to the Joint Select Committee (JSC) for National Security to summon the National Security Council, headed by the Prime Minister, before it.

During a press conference on March 27 at the United National Congress’s head office at Mulchan Seuchan Road, Chaguanas, Moonilal said there are three factors which need to be examined by the JSC.

These are whether the security apparatus has been surrendered to terrorist elements; whether the Research and Analytical Unit (RAU) of the police service is now a rogue unit controlled by the politicians; and what equipment the unit has.

“Last time we wrote (to) the Joint Select Committee on National Security to examine the SSA (Strategic Services Agency).

“But I believe strongly now, given the relationship between the executive and the legislature, that the National Security Council itself, headed by the chairman, should now subject themselves to a parliamentary examination on this matter,” he said.

On questions of the SSA’s integrity, Moonilal alleged that the CCTV contractor killed in November had links to people who had ties to international terrorist organisations.

“We are told that that person who was installing CCTV cameras also had some link, whether directly, whether indirectly, whether by salary, by wage by payment, to elements in Trinidad and Tobago that have been deemed to have a link with international terrorist groups,” he said.

Andy Daniel was gunned down while parked on the northbound lane of the Uriah Butler Highway around midday on November 11. He was the husband of the SSA deputy director of intelligence.

Media reports said Daniel installed systems for two senior Cabinet members and kept the administration rights – something that proved valuable to both criminals and intelligence. Moonilal claimed that this is why the Prime Minister returned from a meeting in the US with the Central Intelligence Agency to hold a late-night Cabinet meeting before immediately removing SSA director Major Roger Best.

“We suspect there is something deeper here and the Prime Minister is hiding.”

In the Senate on March 26, Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds denied claims by a local newspaper that the RAU reported to him.

“I am not aware of any unit of the police service reporting directly to me. The police service commissioner details officers for work and all her other officers report to her, the police commissioner. Any reports, in the context of the relationship between the executive, the cabinet, and the police service are conducted through the office of the Commissioner of Police,” he said.

Hinds also said he was unaware whether the RAU intercepted communications and engaged in surveillance.

However, Moonilal denied these claims. He said the unit falls under Special Branch, which then reports directly to the Prime Minister and Minister of National Security. He alleged the surveillance equipment used by the RAU is more technologically advanced and sophisticated than the SSA’s.

Moonilal also alleged Hinds requested, from the SSA, that a special piece of equipment be made available to the Special Branch. He alleged Hinds also insisted that the Special Branch should have intercept capabilities.

Newsday was unable to get a comment from Hinds up to publication time.