US authorities reportedly believe that jihadist organizations have discovered innovative ways to insert explosives inside electronic devices that can evade common screening techniques used by most airports.
According to CNN, the intelligence community is concerned that the Islamic State group and other terror organizations have obtained airport security equipment in order to better learn how to conceal explosives in luggage.
The intelligence gathered in recent months played a role in the Trump administration’s decision to issue bans prohibiting electronic devices such as laptops and tablets in the cabins on flights from several Middle Eastern countries, CNN said Saturday.
“As a matter of policy, we do not publicly discuss specific intelligence information. However, evaluated intelligence indicates that terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation, to include smuggling explosive devices in electronics,” the Department of Homeland Security told CNN in a statement.
Although US officials said last week the decision to implement the directive wasn’t based on any specific threat, but on longstanding concerns about terrorists targeting jetliners, they warned earlier that terrorists look to target passenger jets with bombs hidden in electronic devices and are aggressively pursuing new methods to conduct attacks, including smuggling explosives in consumer items.
Under the new bans, electronic devices larger than smartphones, such as laptops, tablets and gaming devices, will have to be checked on some international flights.
The US ban affects flights from Amman, Jordan; Kuwait City, Kuwait; Cairo; Istanbul; Jeddah and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Casablanca, Morocco; Doha, Qatar, and Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.
About 50 flights a day, all on foreign carriers, will be affected. Senior Trump administration officials who briefed reporters about the ban said last week that no US-based airlines have nonstop flights from those cities to the US.
British security rules apply to flights from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.
US officials would not specify how long the ban will last, but Emirates told AFP that it had been instructed to enforce the measures until at least October 14.