Soldier denies knowing of explosives in plane bag

Soldier returning from Afghanistan says he did not realise explosives were in bag.

Written by Agencies | Midland | Published:January 4, 2012 3:42 pm

A soldier charged with trying to bring explosives on an airplane in Texas told investigators he used them in Afghanistan but didn’t realise any were in a bag he brought back to the US and apparently carried on a flight from North Carolina to Texas.

Trey Scott Atwater,of Hope Mills,North Carolina,was arrested Saturday while trying to go through security at an airport in Texas where he was planning to fly back home.

Authorities say the 30-year-old had a carry-on bag containing C4,a powerful explosive used in Iraq and Afghanistan to blow the hinges off doors or destroy unexploded ordinance.

According to court documents,Atwater told the FBI he is a demolitions expert who returned from his third deployment to Afghanistan in April. He said his Army special forces team always carried at least two blocks of C4,but he didn’t know any explosives were in his bag when he returned to his post at Fort Bragg,NC.

He said the bag had been in his garage since then and he didn’t see any explosives in the main compartment when he packed for his trip to Texas.

Atwater was detained at the Fayetteville,North Carolina,airport on December 24 when security agents found a military smoke grenade in his carry-on bag.

Court documents don’t specify and transportation officials wouldn’t say yesterday whether investigators now suspect C4 was in Atwater’s bag then or whether he acquired it later.

Atwater did not say where he got the C4,although his comments in court documents indicate he could have brought it from Afghanistan.

After the smoke grenade was confiscated,Atwater was “admonished” and allowed to fly to Texas,court documents said.

Typically,bags are thoroughly searched and placed on X-ray machines for a second time after a suspicious item is found,although court documents don’t say whether that was done in Atwater’s case.

He and his family were returning home when he was stopped at Midland International Airport.

A Transportation Security Administration agent spotted a suspicious item in his carry-on during screening,and a police bomb squad identified it as C4.

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