WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. Army special forces engineer arrested for trying to take explosives aboard a U.S. commercial airliner in Texas told authorities he had forgotten they were in his bag and did not notice them when he packed, according to court papers filed on Tuesday.
Trey Scott Atwater, who had been deployed to Afghanistan three times, was charged with trying to board an aircraft with explosives when he tried to fly out of Midland, Texas, on December 31 to Dallas, according to an FBI affidavit filed in federal court.
He told authorities that his Special Forces Team procedure was to carry at least two blocks of C-4 on any operation and when he packed his bags to leave from Afghanistan in April 2011 he did not recall the explosives being there.
Atwater grabbed the bag out of his garage for his Christmas-time trip from North Carolina to Texas as a carry-on and put his children's items in it, but he did not see the C-4 explosives inside, the affidavit said.
He said that he had not used any C-4 in training since his return to the United States.
When he left North Carolina on December 24, airport screening officers confiscated a smoke grenade from his bag, according to the affidavit.
Atwater is an Army Sergeant First Class in the elite Green Berets, assigned as an instructor at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, where he is a member of the Special Forces Engineers, according to the Army Special Operations Command.
(Reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky; Editing by Jackie Frank)