The U.S. government introduced a measure on Tuesday that will bar passengers from bringing laptops, Kindles, iPads, and other electronic devices on airplane’s cabins on nonstop U.S.-bound flights from 10 airports in the Middle East.
Passengers are still able to carry cellphones, medical devices and smaller devices into the airplane’s cabin, but larger ones must be stored in checked luggage.
The countries impacted by the ban include Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, and Morocco and will apply to about 50 U.S.-bound flights a day.
The decision to bar the electronics on these flights was based on a “evaluated intelligence” and that “terrorist groups continue to have an interest in targeting planes,” according to a senior administration official, reported Fox News.
Although the reason hasn’t been immediately clear, multiple sources are reporting that intelligence agencies are fearful of how electronic devices can be impeded with explosives.
“Intelligence showing that the Islamic State is developing a bomb hidden in portable electronics spurred the United States and Britain on Tuesday to bar passengers from airports in a total of 10 Muslim-majority countries from carrying laptop computers, iPads and other devices larger than a cellphone aboard direct inbound flights, two senior American counterterrorism officials said,” writes The New York Times. “Two additional American officials said the explosives were designed to be hidden in laptop batteries. All four spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to publicly discuss the sensitive information.”
The ban also only impacts foreign carriers because American-operated airlines do not fly directly from the included 10 Middles Eastern airports.
The British government followed suit and also announced a ban on electronic devices, including even some cellphones on flights.
“The British ban affects domestic and foreign airlines, including British Airways, the country’s largest. Foreign airlines affected by the order include Turkish Airlines, EgyptAir and Royal Jordanian, among others, and it affects direct flights to the United Kingdom from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia,” writes The New York Times.
According to David Lapan, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, the measure is in place until Oct. 14 and then it may be extended for another year.
“So why not ban electronic devices from planes entirely? People familiar with the discussions said the restrictions were designed to defeat the particular type of threat that is of greatest concern: the possibility that terrorists could smuggle explosives inside electronics and manually detonate them once on a plane. In the case of the “underwear bomber’’ plot of 2009, for example, the would-be attacker had to mix two chemicals to create the explosive once he was on board the airliner,” writes The Washington Post.
Some have expressed concerns about requiring larger electronic devices only in checked luggage– like how theft from baggage is bound to spike on planes from these barred areas and that some laptop batteries can potentially catch fire in areas where no one would notice.
But, the security screening is much more extensive for checked-bags than carry-ons.
Author’s note: This is not only an extra precaution, but it’s also a way of sending a message to terrorists. It tells them our national security teams are on high-alert.
Editor’s note: There may have been a credible threat of explosive devices in place of the batter of such electronics. The criterion countries perhaps cannot be trusted to conduct proper secuirty procedures.