WASHINGTON–Most electronic devices are banned as carry-on items on US-bound non-stop flights departing from 10 airports in eight Middle East and African countries, the US Homeland Security Department announced Tuesday in a statement, citing anti-terrorism concerns.
Effective immediately, passengers will be prohibited from carrying electronic devices larger than a cellphone, including laptops, tablets, e-readers, cameras, portable DVD players, electronic game units and travel printers or scanners, onto flights directly flying to the United States from 10 airports in Jordan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Morocco.
These items could be stowed in checked luggage, said the DHS statement, adding that cellphones and medical devices are not included in the ban, which also does not apply to airline crew members.
“Evaluated intelligence indicates that terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation and are aggressively pursuing innovative methods to undertake their attacks, to include smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items,” the statement explained the motive behind the ban.
“The affected overseas airports are: Queen Alia International Airport (AMM), Cairo International Airport (CAI), Ataturk International Airport (IST), King Abdul-Aziz International Airport (JED), King Khalid International Airport (RUH), Kuwait International Airport (KWI), Mohammed V Airport (CMN), Hamad International Airport (DOH), Dubai International Airport (DXB), and Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH)”, said the statement.
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 US revoked if they do not comply, local media reported, noting that no US air carriers are affected because none of them have non-stop flights from the 10 impacted airports.
The Donald Trump administration 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.
The Home Security Department also did not signal how long the ban would last or if it would be expanded to other airports, just said that more than 250 airports around the world serve as last points of departure to the United States and the 10 only makes up “a small percentage”.
There is no impact on domestic flights in the United States or flights departing the United States. Electronic devices will continue to be allowed on all flights originating in the United States, according to the statement.
The US government has been concerned about explosives being hidden in electronic devices for some time. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has been trying to build bombs with little or no metal in order to evade screening, said local media reports.