FORT LAUDERDALE: The FBI agent who interrogated Saddam Hussein alone for months after the capture of the first Iraqi leader is currently at the head of the investigation of the attack on Florida airport blamed against a Veteran The war in Iraq.
George Piro, a special agent for the FBI office in Miami, was Saddam’s only interrogator since January 2004. In previous interviews, Piro said Saddam did not know his true identity – the Iraqi leader called him “Mr. George “- and that he posed as a high-level envoy who responded directly to President George W. Bush.
Now, 49-year-old Piro, a native of Beirut, Lebanon, is fluent in Arabic and Assyrian, is responsible for the FBI’s filming investigation at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Five dead and six wounded. Federal prosecutors accused Esteban Santiago, 26, of airport violence and firearms offenses that could impose the death penalty if convicted.
In announcing the charges filed Saturday, Piro said his thoughts are with the victims and their families.
“I want to assure these families that enforcement works tirelessly to ensure justice is served,” he said.
Piro, an FBI agent since 1999, moved with his family from Lebanon to California San Joaquin Valley as a teenager. After high school, he enlisted in the Air Force, then became a police officer for a decade in Ceres, California, followed by a job as an investigator in the local prosecutor’s office.
Once he joined the FBI in Phoenix, Piro was one of the few Arabic-speaking agents – a group that was suddenly in high demand after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and the subsequent US invasions in Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2003, Piro was promoted to the FBI’s Counter-Terrorism Division at headquarters in Washington, which led to his work as a Saddam interrogator.
In later interviews, including a 2008 appearance on CBS’s “60 Minutes” program, Piro said he met every day with Saddam in a windowless room and worked to gain his confidence by becoming his only Supplier of necessities and paper for Saddam to write poetry.
Finally, Piro said Saddam confirmed that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction before the invasion of the United States, but could look for them in the future to deter Iran and other threats . Saddam also denied any ties with al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, Piro said.
Saddam also liked to boast of escaping US air strikes and capturing, according to Piro.
“What he really wanted to illustrate is … how he was able to surpass us,” Piro told “60 Minutes.” “He got rid of his normal vehicles. He got rid of the protective detail with which he traveled, really just to change his signature. ”
Saddam was later tried and executed by hanging in December 2006.
Santiago, the suspect shooting airport, also served in Iraq in 2010 with the Puerto Rico National Guard as part of an engineering battalion, the said guards said. Santiago later served in the Army Reserves and the National Guard of Alaska.
After Iraq, Piro occupied the positions of the FBI’s anti-terrorism in Washington, including a White House position involving interrogations of high-value detainees working with various intelligence services.
Since taking office at the Miami FBI, Piro has overseen work in more internal areas such as health care fraud, identity theft and tax fraud, Ponzi plans and mortgage fraud . Bank robberies, violent street gangs, public corruption and smuggling of human beings and drugs complement much of the work of the approximately 1,000 officers and employees in the Miami office.
Since the shoot on Friday, Piro has taken care to say that no evidence linking Santiago to terrorism has been found, but such connections have not been excluded either.
“It’s too early in the investigation, we look at all of its social media, things like that, it’s an image of the individual, but it’s too early to get away from it all,” Piro said Saturday. “We are pursuing every angle on what prompted him to carry out this horrible attack.”