A Fort Bragg-based Special Forces soldier charged with trying to takeexplosives on board an airplane on New Year's Eve said he didn't knowthere was a block of C-4 in his bag, which he said he hadn't usedsince he returned from a deployment to Afghanistan.
Trey Scott Atwater, 30, was stopped by Transportation SafetyAdministration officials in both directions as he traveled over theholidays. The first time was as he left Fayetteville on Christmas Eveon his way to visit relatives in Midland, Texas, and the second wasDec. 31 as he and his family were leaving Midland to come back toNorth Carolina.
According to an affidavit filed in the case in Texas, TSA officersconfiscated a smoke grenade they found in Atwater's carry-on bag as heboarded his plane in Fayetteville, but let him go with anadmonishment. Officers in Midland, however, alerted the Federal Bureauof Investigation when they found a block of plastic explosives inAtwater's carry-on, and Atwater now faces federal charges.
Sgt. 1st Class Atwater is an instructor in the John F. Kennedy SpecialWarfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, and told investigators he isa demolitions expert.
The affidavit implies the C-4 came home with Atwater from Afghanistan;it doesn't say why he would have brought the items back in hisluggage, but says he told investigators he was surprised to learn theywere there.
A spokesman for the Special Forces Command at Fort Bragg did notimmediately return calls to discuss how a soldier could have left acombat deployment with explosives in his luggage.
During an interview with two FBI agents, Atwater said he had deployedwith the 7th Special Forces Group to Afghanistan, his third tourthere, returning in April 2011.
According to the affidavit, “Atwater further explained that hisSpecial Forces Team had a Special Operating Procedure which was tocarry at least two blocks of C-4 on any operation. Atwater said thathe usually carried much more due to his specialty. When Atwater leftAfghanistan, he said he packed his bags, to include the bag where theexplosives were found, and had no recollection of there being any C-4contained therein.”
The affidavit said Atwater told agents that he had not used the bagsince returning from Afghanistan and that it had been in the garage athis home in Hope Mills, until he grabbed it to carry items for hischildren on the flight to Texas.
Atwater said he had not used C-4 in any training since returning fromhis deployment.
The affidavit said that during his interview with agents in Texas,Atwater didn't mention having been stopped in Fayetteville with thesmoke grenade until one of the agents asked him about it. The agentsaid Atwater acknowledged that it had happened and said he forgot tomention it earlier.
Atwater is being held in the Midland County Jail. A spokeswoman forthe federal court in Midland said Atwater is scheduled to have adetention hearing at 2 p.m. Friday, where a judge could decide whetherto continue to hold him or release him with or without bond.