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Hafizool Under Probe
The infamous Flying Squad was secretly revived in July last year, a month after Minister of National Security Jack Warner signalled his intention to bring back the unit to fight the spiralling crime problem. And the covert unit is investigating Dr Hafizool Ali Mohammed, a member of the commission of enquiry into the 1990 coup attempt whose academic qualifications have come under scrutiny.
The squad has been operating from an office on the compound of Trident Technical and Logistical Services and Donrich Security Kennels, at Factory Road, Golden Grove Road, Arouca. The squad was first formed in the 1970s but was disbanded in 1980 after charges of conspiracy to murder were slapped on former police commissioner Randolph Burroughs.
The current Flying Squad staff comprises 75 retired officers who previously worked at various state enterprises throughout the country, ranging from the police to the Immigration Division. Retired police inspector Mervyn Cordner, who was a member of the original squad, has been recalled to lead the new operation.
Warner hinted at the possibility of bringing the squad back last year, but did not give a time frame. It was also unclear why Cordner was chosen to head the unit. The decision, however, is not sitting well in some quarters, who have argued that some aspects of his past service make him a questionable selection. But in an exclusive interview with the T&T Guardian yesterday, Cordner, who has a master’s degree in law, insisted he had nothing to hide.
“My education speaks for itself...I was asked to do a job and that is what I am doing,” he said. “Only yesterday one of my informants brought information on Dr Hafizool Mohammed, and I sent him back for something else. “The information published is just the tip of the iceberg. The country will be shocked at what is going to be revealed.”
Cordner said it was Warner who approached him to assist in fighting crime. He said a proposal was submitted and a budget of $180 million was requested to carry out the Flying Squad operations. “They asked me what I wanted to immediately start,” he said, “and I got computers, desks, chairs and eight vehicles, comprising SUVs, cars and vans.
"But up to this day I have not received one cent. I have used $15,000 of my own funds to pay workers. For almost five months, I have paid the employees from my pocket. The building we are leasing for approximately $200,00 per month, I also negotiated for us to get there.”
He claimed the squad had been instrumental in helping the police to solve six murders, but the lack of funding had put a damper on its operations. Showing the scars he received as a member of the original squad, Cordner said he was prepared to give his life to save T&T. But, he complained: “The Government is not serious.
We are working from Maracas to Cedros and we need the tools to conduct our job. Every week is just promises and more promises, but they want to decrease crime.”
Efforts to contact Warner, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan and acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams were unsuccessful yesterday. Calls to their cellphones went to voice messages and they did not respond to messages left on them. They also did not respond to text messages.
Mohammed stays mum
Mohammed was expected to clear the air on his qualifications—which were highlighted in exclusive T&T Guardian articles this week—at a press conference yesterday, but cancelled it at the last minute. The T&T Guardian understands the Government is expected to make a decision next week on his status as a commissioner in the enquiry into the 1990 coup attempt.
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