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October 24, 2014

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ATF: Carry-on held improvised explosive device

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — An item found in an oil worker's carry-on luggage at the Anchorage airport was an improvised explosive device, or IED, an agent for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said Tuesday.

The unidentified man told officials he uses the homemade explosive for avalanche control and didn't intend to bring it with him on the plane Sunday, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

"There was no malicious intent behind the possession of this," ATF agent Michael Graham said in an interview.

However, Graham said he hasn't ever received reports of IEDs used for avalanche control. He could not say whether the man made the device himself.

ATF agents found four similar devices in the man's home. If the agency determines they're "destructive," he could be charged with possession of an unregistered destructive device, Graham said.

The ATF plans to present its findings to the U.S. attorney's office in about a week, and prosecutors will decide whether to press charges. The man's name is being withheld pending a determination on possible charges.

The device led to an hourlong shutdown of airport security screening on Sunday. The man had a ticket for a Shared Services oil worker transport flight.

ConocoPhillips operates Shared Services, a co-venture between the company and BP that transports more than 20,000 employees and contract workers between Anchorage, Fairbanks and the North Slope each month, said Amy Burnett, a Conoco spokeswoman.

Burnett said she didn't know how many workers had tickets for the North Slope flight, but the plane could hold 136 people.

"I really can't speculate about what happened in this case or why the passenger had the device with him other than to say the investigation determined that he didn't intend any ill will," she said Tuesday.

Transportation Security Administration agents who found the device in the man's luggage cleared a 300-foot radius around the security checkpoint, officials say. Airport manager John Parrott said the airport wasn't evacuated because agents saw the device didn't have a detonator.

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