Former Security Contractor Charged with Attempting to Board Plane in Iraq with a Live Hand Grenade
Greenbelt, Maryland - Christopher Brian Peoples, age 44, of San Diego, California, a former employee of a security contractor to the U.S. military in Iraq, was charged by criminal complaint today with attempting to board a plane with a concealed explosive device accessible to him in flight, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein. Peoples arrived at Andrews Air Force Base yesterday afternoon, after previously being arrested in Iraq. He is charged in Maryland because when a defendant is arrested abroad, venue is appropriate in the judicial district to which the defendant is first brought.
According to the affidavit supporting the complaint, Peoples arrived in Baghdad on October 22, 2007 to begin work as an employee of a security contractor to the U.S. military. He was authorized to carry a military issued 9mm pistol and an M16/M4 rifle, but prohibited from purchasing and possessing privately owned firearms and explosives. On November 4, 2007, Peoples complained about his living conditions and work assignment in Al Taqqadum, Iraq, apparently circumventing the security contractor’s chain of command in doing so. Peoples was subsequently returned to a work site near Baghdad, Iraq, and terminated from employment with the security contractor on November 15, 2007.
The affidavit further alleges that Peoples was scheduled to depart Baghdad on November 15 on a Royal Jordanian flight to Amman, Jordan, where he was to board a connecting flight to the United States. As Peoples was attempting to pass a security screening checkpoint after which he would board the aircraft, security personnel noticed a suspicious object in the backpack he was carrying. Further investigation revealed that his backpack contained a live U.S. military M-67 hand grenade. Peoples was arrested. In a subsequent statement, Peoples stated that he had obtained the grenade three weeks prior from a person called “Rex,” placed the grenade in his gear bag and forgot that the device was in his bag when he attempted to board the plane. Peoples also admitted that hand grenades were not issued to him by the security contractor.
Peoples faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release. He will have his initial appearance at 2:00 p.m. today in federal court in Greenbelt.
A complaint is not a finding of guilt. An individual charged by complaint is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the Army Criminal Investigations Division and the Transportation Attache for the U.S. Embassy in Iraq for their investigative work on this case, both in Iraq and the United States. Mr. Rosenstein commended Assistant United States Attorney James A. Crowell, who is prosecuting the case.