(Trinidad Guardian) Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley yesterday described the photographs of Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi’s children training with high-powered guns at Camp Cumuto, which were shown in Parliament and plastered all over Facebook, as a serious breach of security by the Defence Force.
Rowley told members of national security services, “especially those who are charged with the responsibility of protecting officers of State and their families, “that they have a duty and must have some respect for the job that they carry out.
“Because if it is you lose confidence in the people around you, who are to safeguard you from those who would want to harm you, I rather be without them you know.”
He was delivering his contribution to the budget debate when he spoke about the photographs which Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal produced in Parliament on Tuesday and noted that the children, who were posing with UMP 9mm guns which the T&T Defence Force uses, had a striking resemblance to a senior Government official.
Al-Rawi subsequently defended himself, saying his family had been invited by the Defence Force for a threat assessment after he received deaths threats soon after entering office last year.
Yesterday, Rowley said while Moonilal claimed to have dropped a bomb or mark in Parliament, “a serious breach had taken place. Because if the facts are as they are, that those children were under the supervision and control of the State’s security services, and those children were photographed by elements of the State’s security services, and that, Members of Parliament, put them open to the world.
“Two things happened here. The officer who would have taken that picture and to have publicised it as part of the work going on at Camp Cumuto…that officer would have breached a level of security and has created a threat for the children of the Attorney General.”
Rowley said passing such information to an Opposition member was “meant to harm.” The PM said “if a person close to you, who is detailed and paid to secure you, will take steps to try to harm you and your family, you don’t want them near you. Understand that. So I see that now. It would have come from the security services.”
He added, “Let me ask you a question Madame Speaker, you think those children went in Camp Cumuto and took up those guns? They were under supervision of the highest level of security in the country… they were under the highest level … personal security in this country. They are supposed to be the cream of the crop. And it ends up on some page (Facebook) I am not surprised.”
Rowley said he was not surprised by Moonilal’s actions, as he too was targeted during the 2015 general election campaign. Referring to his own recent issues with his security detail, the PM said he now feared telling someone he cannot trust long in advance where he was going.
“Anywhere I am going as Prime Minister I must tell them where I want to go. So they could tell somebody. I am safer, if you don’t know. If I have to tell you long in advance where I am going and you are prepared to pass information to people like that… why am I not to be exposed, if you tell the world I am going to be at point A or B. This is a very serious matter.”
He said for Moonilal to drop such information about the AG’s children handling guns should frighten all of us.
“It is irresponsible on the part of the officer who took that picture.”
Rowley said recently he had to remove Special Branch from the Prime Minister’s detail because they publicly said they could not guarantee him security.
The PM told Moonilal he found it strange his sight was so good now, noting that when a video of his former People’s Partnership colleague surfaced he did not know who the person was.
“But the back of a photograph…the back of a child you know who it is now. You could look at the back of a child and know who the father is, but you couldn’t know your colleague was in Cascade snorting.”
The photos of Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi’s children using guns at the range at Camp Cumuto which Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley yesterday accused a member of the Defence Force of leaking.
Army confirms training
In a release issued last night, the T&T Defence Force confirmed that it invited Al-Rawi and his family to Camp Cumuto for training. The release, signed by senior public affairs officer Major Al Alexander, said the Defence Force “traditionally provides close protection to national strategic leaders.”
“As part of this process, several considerations are taken into account, inclusive of exposing the principal and his/her family to scenarios that may be encountered during the time that the principal is in office,” it added.
It confirmed that “Attorney General (Faris Al Rawi) and his family have been invited in the past to one of our bases where they were exposed to some of these scenarios.”
The statement said details of the type of training cannot be given for security reasons.