More guards for Rowley

Informed sources told the Express yesterday the security forces were alerted to this threat following the jailbreak from the Port of Spain prison two weeks ago.

Consequently, Rowley’s security entourage has been increased. On Tuesday night at the public meeting in Diego Martin, the Opposition Leader noticeably did not engage in the normal crowd-mixing activity which has become customary after such public meetings.

This is as a result of some of the restrictions imposed on him by security personnel, both in the State and private sector, as they attempt to minimise his exposure to any adverse possibilities, sources said.

Sources said Rowley’s security advisers are cognisant of the threat in the context of an election campaign where he is required to make frequent public appearances.

It is understood that while State security is involved in the beefed-up arrangements “in a major way”,Rowley has brought in a layer of private security as well.

Rowley declines comment

Contacted for comment on the issue, Rowley said he did not wish to discuss the matter.

Asked why his security entourage had been increased and why his security arrangements had been significantly improved, he also declined comment, saying only: “It (his security arrangements) is in the hands of the specialists in the public and the private sector. I will not comment further on the details of any of these arrangements.”

Asked whether he had been made aware of the threat to his life, Rowley said: “I will not comment any further on that.”

CoP will not confirm or deny

Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams responded in a similar vein.

Asked to confirm or deny reports that Special Branch officers had received information recently of a potential hit on the Opposition Leader, Williams said: “Well I would not confirm or deny. Those are matters I would not be putting in the public domain.”

Asked whether Special Branch had provided Rowley with certain advice with respect to his safety arrangements, Williams replied: “No, I would not confirm that.”

Questioned whether there was any connection between the emergence of information of the threat and the recent jailbreak, Williams stuck to his position, saying: “I would not comment on any matter which should not be in the public domain.”

Williams similarly refused to comment on whether he or any member of his executive spoke to Rowley with respect to concerns for his personal safety.

Asked whether he did not feel that the country should be made aware of whether or not the Police Service and, in particular, the Special Branch had received information with respect to a threat to the Opposition Leader’s life, Williams remained steadfast with his “I would not comment”.

The Express understands the security services are focusing on the source of the threat.

Two threats to date

Rowley, who has been provided with security by the State since February 2014, has received two death threats since becoming Opposition Leader.

In 2011, Rowley and then-People’s National Movement senator Fitzgerald Hinds reported to police they had received threatening letters. At that time, police officers had questioned seve­ral people, including members of the Jamaat-al-Muslimeen, but no one was held.

In October 2012, then-national security minister Jack Warner revealed police were investigating a “threat against Rowley’s life”.

“I am advised today that the Opposition Leader has got a death threat… And while that is not in the remit of the Ministry of National Security… I can say that the police are investigating the matter closely and they will deal with it,” Warner said then.

It was under Gary Griffith’s tenure as national security minister that Rowley was given State security.

(Two security officials had been assigned to him in June 2010, but in November 2010 they were removed.)

Griffith stated at the time: “I do not personalise or politicise matters of national security. It should be generally accepted that whoever holds the post of Opposition Leader should be afforded State security… It should be automatic that the Leader of the Opposition receives security because there must be a level of security threat on that person.”

In this administration, a number of ministers (who would normally not have security) have been afforded security, and security has been beefed up for ministers who are normally afforded it, since the Prime Minister reported an assassination threat to herself and several other ministers in November 2011 during a state of emergency.

 

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