2017-01-09 15:43:00
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) - 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 that killed five and is being 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 - the Iraqi leader called him “Mr. George” - and that he posed as a high-level envoy who answered directly to then-President George W. Bush. Now the 49-year-old Piro, a native of Beirut, Lebanon, fluent in Arabic and Assyrian, is 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 is convicted. In announcing the charges filed Saturday, Piro said his thoughts are with the victims and their families. “I want to ensure these families that law enforcement is working tirelessly in order to ensure justice is served,” he said. Piro, an FBI agent since 1999, moved with his family from Lebanon to California’s 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.