Transportation

Trump admin bans large electronics on select flights from Africa, Middle East

The Trump administration is banning large electronics from being brought onto U.S.-bound flights from select airports in Africa and the Middle East over security concerns, the Homeland Security Department announced Tuesday.

Effective immediately, passengers will be prohibited from carrying electronic devices larger than a cellphone — such as laptops, tablets, cameras, portable DVD players and electronic game units — onto certain non-stop flights traveling into the country. Those items could be stowed in checked luggage, the U.S. government said.

The electronics ban applies to 10 different airports in Jordan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, Qatar, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates.

Cellphones and medical devices are not included in the ban, and the policy does not apply to airline crew members.

{mosads}Senior administration officials told reporters that the new security measures are being implemented in response to intelligence that indicates terrorist groups are “aggressively pursuing innovative methods” to smuggle explosive devices onto commercial flights.

The policy will impact nine airlines, which will have 96 hours to start enforcing the new security protocols and could have their certificate to fly to the U.S. revoked if they do not comply.

No U.S. air carriers are affected, senior administration officials said, because none of them have non-stop flights from the 10 impacted airports.

Officials did not offer details about how the airports were selected, only saying the decision was based on intelligence and that it was not specific to a country or location.

They also did not signal how long the new security step would last or if the indefinite policy would be expanded to other airports, but said the administration will be continually monitoring the situation.

The government has been concerned about explosives being hidden in electronic devices for some time. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, has been trying to build bombs with little or no metal in order to evade screening.

There wasn’t enough information to warrant any airline action before, according to CNN, but new information uncovered in a recent U.S. Special Forces raid in Yemen may have contributed to the ongoing concern.

The administration cited several incidents where terrorists have targeted commercial aircraft over the past two years, including one incident in Somalia, which senior officials said involved someone smuggling a device onto a Daallo Airlines flight last year.

But Daallo Airlines does not fly to the U.S. and therefore would not be subject to the new security measures.

The U.S. government was already reaching out to airlines to inform them about the electronics policy before it was supposed to take effect.

Earlier Monday, Royal Jordanian posted — and then deleted — a message on Twitter explaining the new protocol to its passengers, citing the “concerned U.S. departments.”

Trump faced fierce backlash when he signed his first executive order barring travelers from certain countries and refugees from entering the U.S. because the policy reportedly blind sided lawmakers, officials and airlines, leading to chaos and confusion at airports around the country.

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