(Trinidad Express) The National Security Alert has been raised after security forces unearthed an alleged assassination plot against Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and three senior members of her Cabinet.
Security forces were yesterday placed on high alert after intelligence revealed the assassination plot was expected to be initiated from today.
The Government ministers identified as targets in the alleged plot are National Security Minister Brigadier John Sandy, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan and Foreign Affairs and Information Minister Dr Surujrattan Rambachan.
Police sources said the threat has also extended to certain senior police officers.
National Security adviser Gary Griffith, when contacted yesterday, only confirmed the security of Persad-Bissessar and three members of her Cabinet has been increased. He did not name the ministers.
Griffith, however, refused to divulge any further information regarding the additional security for the State officials. He also refused to confirm or deny the threat against Persad-Bissessar, Ramlogan, Sandy and Rambachan.
Persad-Bissessar and Sandy could not be reached for comment yesterday as calls to their cell phones went unanswered but when contacted, Ramlogan and Rambachan said they had no comment to offer.
Up to late yesterday, more than ten persons were in police custody in connection with the alleged plot. Among them, a police sergeant who was arrested while on duty at the St Clair Police Station. He was taken to the Woodbrook Police Station.
The son of a prominent contractor in Valsayn was also arrested by police. The suspects are being housed in separate police stations along the East-West Corridor.
A senior Government source said: “This assassination plot, the security forces have stated, is based on the anger of some criminals because of the imposition of the SoE, which was effective. This plot is a well-orchestrated plan to show that the State of Emergency was a dismal failure and an attempt to destabilise the Government.”
“The assassination plot on the life of the Prime Minister has raised the National Security Alert state on confirmation of an assassination plot against the PM and three members of her Cabinet.
“Security has been heightened for the Prime Minister and the three ministers. The State is ready and capable of doing what is necessary and has placed all mechanisms in place to dismantle the threat,” the source told the Express last evening.
The plot, a senior police said, was hatched by several persons held under the Anti-Gang Legislation while they were in custody at the Golden Grove Prison.
A senior Government minister, who asked not to be named, said, “The police are on high alert about certain matters involving State security. They unearthed an assassination plot against the PM and the AG, who are specific targets, by an extremist fringe group, comprising various discreet elements from criminal underworld gangs and persons suspected to be involved in the international drug and arms trade.”
The Government is expected to address the matter later today at the post-Cabinet news briefing.
On Monday, a high-profile security meeting took place at the Police Administration Building in Port of Spain which involved Commissioner of Police Dwayne Gibbs, DCP Mervyn Richardson, other senior police officers and the top brass of the Defence Force.
A massive undercover exercise carried out on Monday night by intelligence agencies resulted in the arrest of Selwyn “Robocop” Alexis. Officers also desperately searched for other persons who have been identified as the assassins in the alleged plot. Many of the suspects, the Express understands, could not be found, and that caused the security alert to be heightened.
Public Information Officer of the Police Service Sgt Wayne Mystar, during yesterday’s daily police news briefing, said Alexis remains in police custody, assisting police with enquiries. Mystar refused to say what investigation Alexis was assisting police with.
Alexis, of Freedom Street, Enterprise Village, Chaguanas, was held on Monday at his home and taken to the Belmont Police Station where he remained in custody up to late yesterday. Only two weeks ago, he was released on a murder charge.
Alexis was also detained by officers of the Criminal Intelligence Unit (CIU) while watching television in a multimillion-dollar apartment at One Woodbrook Place, Woodbrook.
During that arrest, which took place on August 30, police claimed they found material which fitted the profile of an assassination attempt against Persad-Bissessar, Ramlogan and Sandy.
But in a recent interview with TV6’s Crime Watch talk show host, Ian Alleyne, shortly after being freed on the murder charge, Alexis categorically denied any involvement in a plot to assassinate the senior State officials.
The Defence Force and other security agencies were yesterday placed on high alert, with the Army, Coast Guard and Air Guard ordering all its personnel to report for duty at their various headquarters no later than 11.59 p.m. last night.
There is also going to be a heightened police and army presence in several communities, effective from today, which will involve stop and searches of pedestrians and motor vehicles.
On Tuesday night, DCP Mervyn Richardson, through the Police Command Centre, issued messages to all police stations, special units, branches and sections, advising officers to exercise extreme caution while on duty and pay extra vigilance.
Contacted last evening, Richardson, who whispered on the other line, said he was in a meeting and could not take our call.