Saddam Hussein said ‘you can’t trust anyone with a beard like that’ when asked about al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, the FBI interrogator of the toppled Iraqi dictator has revealed. George Piro – a Lebanese-American special agent who spent several hours a day questioning the Iraqi tyrant – said Saddam joked with him as he tried to establish the dictator’s links to the terror network.
But while also trying to work out if Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, Piro said he discovered that he had nothing but contempt for the terror group. Piro was the team lead interrogator of the Saddam Hussein Interrogation Team following the leader’s capture by US soldiers in Iraq in 2004.
The now retired FBI agent also said Saddam lied about having WMD because he wanted to frighten Iraq’s neighbour and enemy Iran. For months, Piro would spend several hours a day with the Iraqi dictator questioning and interrogating him. He said Saddam held this view because he had ‘no desire to turn over power or relinquish anything to someone else.’
During the long interrogation sessions, Piro said he realised that Saddam’s claim to possess WMD was a bluff. He suggested he had lied to unnerve eastern neighbour Iran. Piro said he was able to use the hour-long interrogation sessions to get Saddam to admit he would have rebuilt a WMD programme if the US lifted sanctions against the country.
Following his hours spent with Saddam, Piro said the Iraqi predicted that events following his removal from power would be drawn out and brutal, and reestablishing governance in the country would be more complicated than the West had assumed. Piro is now writing a book about his sessions with the Iraqi leader after retiring from the FBI last year.