Soldier Denies Explosives Plane
January 4, 2012 by staff
Soldier Denies Explosives Plane, A soldier charged with trying to bring explosives on an airplane in Texas told investigators he used them in Afghanistan but didn’t realize any were in a bag he brought back to the U.S. and apparently carried on a flight from North Carolina to Texas.
Trey Scott Atwter, of Hope Mills, N.C., 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, Atwter 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, N.C.
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.
Atwter was detained at the Fayetteville, N.C., airport on Dec. 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 Tuesday – whether investigators now suspect C4 was in Atwter’s bag then or whether he acquired it later.
Atwter 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, Atwter 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 Atwter’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.
C4 looks like a block of clay and requires a blasting cap or detonator to explode. Combat troops have ready access to the explosive, which can also be used as fuel for heating water or rations. The U.S. military forbids troops from taking C4 out of combat zones, but the screening process for troops heading home is not as stringent as for people flying on commercial airlines.
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