CASE OF THE FAILED HAND GRENADE ATTACK
Man Who Tried to Assassinate President Convicted
in the Crowd with
Grenade Prior to the Attack
unknown man stood for hours in the hot
sun, wearing a heavy leather coat and
muttering and cursing to himself, part
of a huge crowd waiting for President
Bush to speak at Freedom Square in T'bilisi,
Georgia, in May. He was clutching to
his chest a hand grenade hidden in a
red handkerchief. He was planning to
kill the President.
the President began speaking, the man
pulled the pin and hurled the grenade
in the direction of the podium. It landed
just 61 feet from where the President,
First Lady Laura Bush, the President
and First Lady of the Republic of Georgia,
and other officials sat. The hand
grenade failed to detonate, thankfully,
as the red handkerchief wrapped tightly
around it didn't allow the firing pin
to deploy fast enough.
alert Georgian security officer scooped
up the grenade and removed it from the
area. Meanwhile, the man melted into
the vast crowd and disappeared.
was this man...and how did we work with
Georgian authorities to find him?
the investigation begin: the FBI
has an overseas
office in T'bilisi, headed by Special
Agent Bryan Paarmann, one of more
than 50 Legal Attachés worldwide
that enable us to respond quickly to
cases like this. Agent Paarmann was
quickly notified of the attack, and,
at the request of the Georgian government,
the FBI opened an investigation.
how the case unfolded:
we quickly brought extra manpower to
the scene, including agents from nearby
Budapest, Hungary, the FBI Lab, and
from our Washington, D.C., office. The
agents analyzed the grenade, mapped
the crime scene, and obtained a DNA
sample from the handkerchief, which
gave us a genetic profile of the attacker.
the same time, we began gathering all
news footage and photographs taken that
day. Working closely with Georgian authorities,
we used the photographs to identify
and then interview potential witnesses
in the crowd. One Georgian woman said
she'd seen a suspicious man in a heavy
coat with a red handkerchief. A Georgian
sketch artist developed a composite
picture of the man based on her description.
one picture, we also spotted a man in
the bleachers with a large camera facing
the area of the attack. Turns out, he
was a visiting professor from Boise,
Idaho. We contacted him and obtained
his photographs. Based on the woman's
description, we were able to identify
a suspect from the professor's photographs.
Georgian authorities publicized the
man's picture and created a hotline
after, acting on a tip from the hotline,
Georgian officers arrived at the apartment
of a man named Vladimir Arutyunian (or
Arutunian). The man opened fire, tragically
killing a Georgian police officer, but
the attacker was soon captured. DNA
samples from the man matched the handkerchief.
From his hospital bed, Arutyunian admitted
that he had thrown the grenade in hopes
of killing President Bush.
police later found a chemical lab in
a basement and bunker in the woods that
Arutyunian had stocked with chemicals,
explosives, and other materials. FBI
personnel helped dismantle the stockpiles,
saving lives and gathering further evidence.
December 2005, FBI agents from Washington
and our Lab testified in Georgian court
on the evidence gathered against Arutyunian.
result? On January 11, Arutyunian
was convicted and sentenced to life
in prison for the grenade attack and
for killing the Georgian police officer.
were pleased to work side by side with
our Georgian colleagues, who were dedicated
to finding this dangerous man,"
Agent Paarmann said. "We were deeply
saddened, though, by the loss of one
of their officers in bringing this would-be
assassin to justice. We honor his bravery
and are gratified that his sacrifice
was not in vain and that justice has