One month after an alleged intelligence unit, the New Flying Squad Investigation Unit (NFSIU) became public knowledge, steps were taken to set up a similar covert agency under the National Security Operations Centre (NSOC), Sunday Express investigations have revealed.
The Sunday Express understands that National Security Advisor Gary Griffith had proposed the idea of this covert intelligence unit to be headed by a retired lieutenant from the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force (TTDF) who worked in its intelligence department.
Sources told the Sunday Express that work was apace to get the unit operational because there were serious security gaps in the country's intelligence gathering.
Contacted yesterday Griffith confirmed to the Sunday Express that he was behind moves to set up such a unit which would have fallen under the leadership of the now controversial director of the NSOC Garvin Heerah.
Heerah became NSOC director in November.
Griffith, who sits on the National Security Council headed by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, said yesterday he had no problem with a "unit like that" and the time was right to go after the "big fish".
"There are dozens of initiatives as National Security Adviser that I would like to see implemented so that we can go after the 'big fish', corrupt politicians and any high ranking people we want," he told the Sunday Express.
He pointed out that the individual he selected for the job was "willing and able" and had the necessary qualifications and experience to head an intelligence unit.
"What we need to be able to do is analyse information and turn it into intelligence," he said.
But he insisted that any intelligence unit which is set up must have a legal structure and the blessings of the Commissioner of Police.
He pointed out that when units are properly set up and fully transparent like the Criminal Intelligence Agency (CIA) or the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) or the MI6, the authorities benefit from proper intelligence.
"We depend on snapshots, roadblocks and raids to get information. The technology is more advanced than that. There are scientific strategies to fight crime," he said.
He observed that the Strategic Intelligence Agency (SIA) operated without transparency and that the Special Anti-Crime Unit of Trinidad and Tobago (SAUTT) also had an intelligence unit which was never approved by legislation and these were dangerous practices in intelligence which the People's Partnership administration should not repeat.
The Sunday Express learnt that the intent of the unit was primarily intelligence gathering which is not dissimilar to what the NFSIU, headed by former police sergeant Mervyn Cordner, had claimed it was doing before it closed shop in December.
The NFSIU has claimed that it was given approval to start operations by National Security Minister Jack Warner. Warner has repeatedly denied any involvement with the NFSIU.
"I know of no Flying Squad. I have no contract with any Flying Squad. I have no letters between any Flying Squad and me. I have no e-mails between me and any Flying Squad. There is nothing between the permanent secretary and any Flying Squad," he previously told the media.
All documentary evidence to the NFSIU seems to lead back to Heerah.
The NSC last met on February 28, after the cabinet meeting, to discuss the NFSIU.
Cordner has consistently claimed the NFSIU was given approval by the Ministry of National Security and hired some 75 workers and rented office space in Piarco to set up operations.
He has also claimed that he has helped the police with investigations.
Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar has referred the matter of the NFSIU to acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams for further investigations.
The Sunday Express could not reach Heerah for comment yesterday and was informed that he is out of the country.