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Ex-Defence Force chief: I know nothing about any death threats to Faris! AG’s integrity under question

In a Trinidad Guardian article published on 12 October 2016, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi claimed that his family received a threat assessment and instruction from the Defence Force after “umpteen death threats” since he assumed office.

“The security agencies indicated that it was imperative that international protocols for training [when] people are exposed to threats had to be delivered by the security forces to me and to my family,” Al-Rawi told the Guardian. “[…] Upon the instructions of the army in particular, my family was taken up to the Cumuto base where instructions [about] threats to our persons were provided.”

Photo: PNM Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi, one of the leading lights of the campaign so well covered by some elements in the media.
(Copyright Elections.TT)

By letter to Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams on 13 April 2017, Fixin’ T&T asked whether the threats to the Attorney General were reported to the Police and, if yes, when. Williams, according to Fixin’ T&T, is yet to respond.

The following are responses from then Chief of Defence Staff Major General Kenrick Maharaj to Fixin’ T&T questions on Al-Rawi’s trip to Cumuto, which culminated in photographs of his children using high-power weapons:

I acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 12 June 2017, on the subject at caption. I have read the article published in the Trinidad Guardian on 12 October 2016 and I have noted the comments made by the Attorney General, the Honourable Faris Al-Rawi.

Your letter listed seven questions being asked of me in relation to the article referenced in the Trinidad Guardian. I wish to advise that given the likelihood of this matter being brought before the Courts in Trinidad and Tobago, I am exercising caution where, in my opinion, I should reserve that right pursuant to my own interests.

In view of the above please be advised of my responses to your questions as follows:

Photo: Former National Security Minister John Sandy (second from left) greets then Chief of Defence Staff Major-General Kenrick Maharaj (left) while Brigadier Anthony Spencer (second from right) looks on.
(Courtesy News.Gov.tt)

Fixin T&T: As the CDS were you a member of the National Security Council?

Retired General Maharaj: I was not a member. I was a primary advisor to the NSC on matters of defence and security. In that regard, my attendance at NSC meetings was upon the direction of the Chairman (The Prime Minister), the Minister of National Security or on my own request if I needed to inform or propose on matters pertaining to the Defence Force.

Fixin T&T: As the CDS would you be among those advised of threats made to the Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago?

Maharaj: My expectation (based on experience) is in the affirmative, since the Defence Force provides close protection services to the Attorney General. Moreover, the CDS, as head of the Armed Forces should continually be kept updated on the threat environment especially at the strategic and operational levels.

Fixin T&T: Were you at any time at all aware of threats made to the Attorney General Farris Al-Rawi and Minister Stewart Young?

Maharaj: No I was not.

Photo: Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi (right) shares his views at the Transparency Institute anti-corruption conference on 8 March 2016.
(Copyright Shaun Rambaran/forge.co.tt)

Fixin T&T: Is it conventional practice for the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force (TTDF) to conduct threat assessments and subsequently give instructions to Government Ministers?

Maharaj: The term “threat assessment” is a wide ranging one that spans a broad spectrum of national security interests. At the highest level it is an integrated process. At the operational level it is based on joint efforts of the TTDF and TTPS and other relevant stakeholders. However, given law enforcement primacy when the issue is that of threats to individuals (citizens) it falls under the remit of the Police (TTPS) who may seek the assistance of the TTDF in intelligence gathering efforts and analysis.

If directed by the Minister of National Security, the TTDF may be engaged on occasions, to conduct threat assessments on critical national infrastructure on land or in the maritime domain. This is also a matter of government policy on national security.

With respect to the giving of instructions to Government Ministers, the TTDF is not so legislatively positioned or authorized.

Photo: Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams.
(Copyright Trinidad Guardian)

Fixin T&T: As the CDS would you necessarily know of any threat assessment conducted and subsequent instruction given to any Government Minister by the TTDF?

Maharaj: Since the primary responsibility for the threat assessment of Government Ministers resides with the Special Branch TTPS, it is possible that such an assessment can be undertaken without my knowledge. But in respect of the TTDF, there are several serious contraventions to military Regulations, Orders and Chain of Command systems, if a TTDF person is acting independently on the basis of instructions from an external entity regarding the conduct of a threat assessment on a Government Minister.

As stated in response to the previous question, the TTDF does not give instructions to Government Ministers. However, under the ambit of Standard Operating Procedures applicable to personal protection services, the issuing of instructions to a Government Minister in relation to threats to his/her person must be placed in context.

A Personal Protection Specialist is duty-bound to issue instructions during a situation of violence or when there is a clear and present danger affecting a Principal (a Protected Person). These instructions would form part of the reaction to effective enemy fire drills together with all other actions taken to protect the Principal.

Photo: Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi.

Fixin T&T: If the TTDF becomes aware of threats to the Attorney General can and/or does the TTDF take an independent and unilateral action to investigate and determine the veracity of same?

Maharaj: No unilateral action would be taken by the TTDF in such circumstances. Information would be provided to the TTPS whose duty/responsibility it is to investigate, confirm and advise the Executive on such threats. The TTDF would provide support to the TTPS as requested or transmit information gathered that may assist the TTPS in its investigations.

Fixin T&T: Can anyone other than a member of the TTDF authorize or extend invitations to a military compound?

Maharaj: The Minister of National Security can “authorize” persons to visit a military base in specific/special circumstances in consultation with the Chief of Defence Staff. In such circumstances, the “authority” is in essence an “approval” for a visit which is ultimately managed by communicating ( through the office of the CDS), the intent and details of such a visit to the Commanding Officer of the respective Formation (Regiment, Coast Guard, Air Guard, Reserves) applying the necessary protocols, security and administrative arrangements, control measures and supervision.

It should be noted that the authority of the Minister of National Security is provided for in Sections 8 and 191 of the Defence Act. No other non-TTDF person can exercise authority as outlined or implied in the question.

Photo: Minister of National Security Edmund Dillon.
(Copyright CNC3)

I trust that the above responses will assist in your efforts to unearth the truth that we all seek in the matter pertaining to the children of the Attorney General handling high-powered weapons belonging to the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force.

Sincerely,

Kenrick Maharaj Major General (Retired)

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132 comments

  1. Apology not enough, mulls legal options
    by Renuka Singh (Trinidad Express)

    Maj General Kenrick Maharaj is weighing his legal options following an “inadequate apology” from the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force ((TTDF).

    In a telephone interview yesterday, Maharaj said the apology from his successor, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Rodney Smart, was not enough and did not properly address the core issue of how Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi’s two children came to be holding and posing with high powered weapons while visiting the army’s Camp Cumuto base in October 2015.

    “The apology did not address who was responsible for two children holding the Defence Force weapons,” Maharaj said.

    He said the apology to him was not as “strongly worded” as the first letter to Opposition Senator Wayne Sturge which stated that Maharaj acted “on his own volition, authorised the range practice”.

    Maharaj says that the apology which was couched in an explanation fell short and if not addressed, could lead to legal action.

    “The high temperature of the wording in the first letter to Sturge, calmed down in the second letter apology,” he said.

    Maharaj says that the whole issue has been politicised. “This started off in Parliament and then became more politicised when both the Attorney General and the Prime Minister made comments on the issue because it put the TTDF in a position where it had to convene a BOI (Board of Inquiry) and put the findings in the public domain,” he said.

    The BOI, Maharaj said, was convened to satisfy the political calls for answers and made him the easy target.

    “People hear my last name and assume I am UNC (United National Congress) which is a miscalculation,” he said…

  2. So it seems that an army “board of inquiry” and their CDS both have a problem with being truthful. My disappointment in them both grows. So AG Ferris-Wheel do you intend to punish everyone including yourself, “Deadhead” Dillon and the PM for lying? Didn’t we vote for the PNM based on the promise of justice and truth for all and not just for some? Fool me once shame on me, fool me twice shame on you.

  3. If y’all can’t arrest any corrupt politicians why the fuuuccccckkkkkk is this even a topic ..who cares

  4. These lying politicians trying to get the man in trouble

  5. Who next you lie about rawie

  6. “In a letter dated July 18, signed by current CDS Smart, the TTDF apologised to Maharaj for naming him as responsible for that situation.

    In this letter, the TTDF now states the granting of approval “would normally be approved by the chain of command through the delegated authority of the Chief of Defence Staff and subject to the necessary protocols being put in place by way of an administrative instruction”.

    The TTDF stated the findings of its board of inquiry (BOI) were classified as “top secret”, which means while absolving Maharaj of responsibility in this matter, it will not say who was directly responsible for placing high-powered weapons in the hands of the AG’s two children.”
    http://www.trinidadexpress.com/20170720/news/defence-force-apologises-to-maharaj

  7. Just fade away nah! Yuh making ‘d wuk’ look bad for a big General

  8. How much lower would the opposition stoop.

  9. Now trinidadans lets think are little bit. If I was the AG and my family was under all this shit as he claiming I would call the police or tell my boss or my frend something ??????????

  10. Speak the truth stop beating around the Bush

  11. My ppl no who say what the AG approved his children to do that NOT THINKING that it would reach this far. Even if you’re smoothe with golden lyrics and a golden tongue the facts are facts. Don’t try to weasel out. Do the right and honorable thing and resign and if you don’t and Dr Rowley downplays it because he’s your friend then he and all who defend these actions will pay politically because if any Trini is caught holding a gun he will be charged. No one is above the Law not the PM not the AG nobody is and that’s a fact

    • Facebook showing how illiterate ignorant can have a say! You are one! You have no idea about matters of state. Personalities don’t matter. Certain ranks have certain privileges. Just vote, hush and hope yuh party win and let intelligent people talk for u

    • Mr. Hodge not because the phone sometimes change your words makes me illiterate. Tell me that you’ve never made a mistake like that in your messages. Trying to misdirect others from the fact of what Faris children did and the consequences does not help. It was wrong but you have not yet attained the wisdom to know that because you bypassed it intentionally to distract. It will not and surely did not work. If you who is most unaware of my intelligence and literature skills wish you can check my previous posts. What is wrong is wrong no matter who does it. That’s a fact.

    • Thats their strategy…distract from the truth

    • They have been doing it from day 1 !!!

  12. Faris u want others to cover stuff for u bro u not even worth it why other people my lie for u because they r not like u shameless AG u r not fit to be an AG of this great country go back in ur hole bro that will be nice if u do that

  13. That’s a very good question faris who is so stupid to kill u bro for a AG u can really lie bro how do sleep at night when u have to confest to the lord u will be carrying ur sins by the truck loads faris i do know one thing u can real lie u study that how nice so u is above the law u know what they do with people like u bro they sand bag you cuz and no one will ever see u again not even ur family or ur boss so my advise to u is stop the lying on others u can change everything comes out ur face is nothing but lies so cut the crap ok

  14. Cut an plenty pasteeeee. Is ah ranking thing

  15. Something not adding up 1and1 is 2 but it looking like 1and 1equal 11 wat ah ting somebody not speaking de truth

  16. so WTF, you have to know everything, there is a reason you did not know, so stop your effing sour grapes.

  17. hey bai deal with the crime, and stimulate growth in the economy nar

  18. No shame lying and calling respectable people’s names.

  19. Now he says that , probably thinking of a political office

  20. In this country, when you stand up for your rights you are a UNC.

  21. In spite of all d he say n she say…this incident to have youths handling weapons is totally wrong. No parent should allow this.. Have we gone mad in this nation. No approval by anyone can justify this wrong. If d PM cannot say wrong is wrong..then maybe the President.

  22. That’s kamla boy what els do you’ll expect from him

  23. Lies…lies…lies..only lues from government

  24. Bret soak he tail Down he can’t talk

  25. We all know if he was the head of any regiment of any first world country the media would be ripping him to shreds

  26. all kinda excuses wid farris…..

  27. ,who will want to kill faris these guy to society done dead already. cause nobody takes dem on

  28. So when we agree is “information ” and when we don’t is “politics “…

  29. Maharaj…not d same person who went with Jack to F up d highway protesters camp and got an extension as Brigader f ing up the man next in line chance to lead? …that same Maharaj?

  30. Keep in mind there were supposed to be two investigations initially, a TTPS and TTDF. So, when are we going to get the outcome of TTPS? Or would that have been affected by the TTDF one?
    And clearly, many would have questions about the TTDF one.
    Starting with, why was no police report ever made about alleged death threat?
    Did the AG and his wife benefit from said training also?
    It was established that Stuart Young was at venue. Did he also engage in such training? Why? Was there also a threat to his life? Was it reported, if so?
    Was the log ever examined or verified?

  31. He can be used .just as how Jack Warner used him to break down the re-route movement tent foolish man

  32. I am not reading this. I know in a professional capacity one does not vent to ALL and sundry. If former CDS felt wronged then he has another way to voice his concerns. This has degraded into a political bacchanal – he says she says.
    This is dishonor displayed despicably.

  33. I am now seeing how politics can change a person

  34. Ah whole bunch of jackass

  35. I have long recognized that it is virtually impossible to get an intelligent discussion going in this land, simply based on the actors. The split in politics, which is reflective of the ethnic divide, does not allow for mature, objective analyses and or discussions. none side is quick to point to the other side and say “well dem did it first.” I am reminded of schoolyard days where, when children were caught fighting and taken before the teacher or principal there was always the “s/he hit me first.” And while we have grown to adulthood, we remain stuck in first and second standard reasoning.

    • I would think what people should be asking themselves is: Can we prove that Faris DID receive credible death threats?
      And, if not, was he and his family having a jolly up at our army base?
      And is it not time we had a formal response from Rodney Smart?

    • Again, it’s like a Christian and a Hindu having a religious discussion. Their starting points are so diverse that they cannot find common ground. The PNM/UNC divide is no different. There are the die-hards, who will remain loyal till the very end. And their “tribe” can do no wrong, sadly.

    • When the other side is caught in a lie, it is because they are the devil’s kin. When their side lies, it is because they are being clever to deal with the dishonesty from the other side…

    • And the jillion dollar question becomes: how do we transcend such jackassery, keeping in mind that this nation has one of the lowest levels of trust in the world? I have said it over and again that perhaps the biggest challenge facing this nation is not one of economics or crime but one of trust. No one trusts anyone, from the lowest to the highest….

    • I’m confused since when does someone have to prove they got a death threats, ordinary citizens you talking about, For persons who hold high office that is a norm, businessmen get death threats Presidents, PMs. Commissioners of Police, Prisons etc get death threat. Tell me which one of them had to prove it was true ? Really who of their own volition would want to take their kids on a shooting range to hold a gun and practice. It cannot be for fun, but I would like to think it was a precautionary measure. I thank God my father was never in a positon to have to take me on a shooting range, because I fear guns, I have seen one , i have held one but I despise it. this conversation is becoming so bizarre but it tells me where people minds are , and why T&T continues to go round in circle. we seem to be cock -eyed, we all see want we want to see clouded by ethnic divide and party politics,not being objective, since some issues raised by the UNC/PP is just to cause division and people are foolish enough to fall into the trap, Why we still discussing this? I reiterate if Fars says yes. its his kids, what then?

  36. Who could forget his bizzare responses during the daily press conferences in 2012 for that infamous State of Emergency, also what about all the promotions that were to be made in the Force but had to be pulled because the persons just did not make the cut where many looked like him. Too many unanswered questions, lingering doubts and questionable utterances for the individual to remain above the political fray.

  37. I was responding to the person who said T&T Defence force is a joke. We dont know amidst all the wrong doing and madness in this country how blessed we are

  38. The man said he never heard of any not that there weren’t any.

  39. That’s your opinion but I thank God they ain’t no joke because the 2 times T&T had uprising the Defence Force was ready and able to save lives and protect the country. Trinis have never experienced living in a military state so can use ‘rum shop logic’ to make erroneous statements. Maybe reading your history and obtaining knowledge will allow people to make informed statements Thank God for the Military in this land, They only have power over the Police when there is instability in the country .

  40. So the former regiment head is saying that when he was army head he wasn’t informed about what was happening and who was using Cumuto?

    So who was leading the regiment ?

  41. Very interesting. Getting nasty.

  42. T&T Military is just a joke….no professionalism…a bunch of men apprantly promoted on longevity of service…not merit….

  43. When state officials become entwined with politicians,one has to question what they say,even though they might be speaking the truth.Kenrick Maraj was the army officer who accompanied jack Warner(camouflage jacket and all) to destroy Wayne Kublalsing and the highway reroute movement’s camp.Maraj was later granted an extension of his time in the defence force by the UNC led government..Maraj might well be speaking the truth but one cannot be blamed for thinking that he isn’t.

  44. Are you surprised? I’m not. That’s the way politicians behave. The wheel and deal until their integrity become questionable. The longest rope must have an end. Bet he told someone else who will confirm he did. Expect the unexpected. Believe nothing said.

  45. Every body not into talking especially if you came from a family that teaches you a still tongue keeps a wise head. Security has a meaning,

  46. Did he know Kamla life was under threat during the state of emergency? Guess what the answer is….. no! Nobody Knew according to Kamla and the PP

  47. He had amnesia all the time, When AG Faris said it in 2016 why didn’t he deny it?. Are we being told things were happening at Defence Force Headquarters and you were not privy?why did your men not trust you with such pertinent information? Really, I wonder why and how? Another puppet of you know who? Another bacchanal brewing. Beware they will be calling for the AG to resign again Really PP/UNC we tired. Every week a different Opposition Minister raises question on this issue. KPB famous lines (let’s move on)