Saddam Interrogator Leading Fort Lauderdale Investigation

George Piro met with Saddam daily, worked to gain his trust
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 9, 2017 6:38 AM CST
Updated Jan 9, 2017 6:50 AM CST

(Newser) – The FBI agent who interrogated Saddam Hussein alone for months after the former Iraqi leader's capture is now leading the investigation into the Florida airport shooting rampage blamed on an Iraq war veteran. George Piro, special agent in charge of the FBI's Miami field office, was Saddam's sole interrogator beginning in January 2004. In previous interviews, Piro has said Saddam did not know his true identity and that he posed as a high-level envoy who answered directly to George W. Bush. Piro said he met daily with Saddam in a windowless room and worked to gain his trust by becoming his only provider of necessities and such things as paper for Saddam to write poetry, the AP reports.

Piro said Saddam eventually confirmed that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction prior to the US invasion, but that he might seek them in the future to deter Iran and other threats. Now Piro's in charge of the FBI investigation into the shooting at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport that left five people dead and six wounded. Federal prosecutors have charged Esteban Santiago, 26, with airport violence and firearms offenses that could bring the death penalty if he's convicted. NBC News reports the gun Santiago is believed to have used in Friday's shooting was taken away from him on Nov. 7 after he went to an Alaska FBI office to report a US intelligence agency was controlling his mind. Anchorage police removed the weapon from his car, and he was permitted to pick it up from them a month later. (Read more Esteban Santiago stories.)

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