US To Ban Laptops And Tablets On Flights From African And Middle Eastern Countries, 10 Airports Affected
International passengers traveling to the United States from select countries will have to get their electronic devices checked at airports. This comes in the wake of the latest authorization by U.S. officials to counter non-specific terrorism threats that they received some weeks ago.
This ban is expected to be formally rolled out on March 21 by the Department of Homeland Security. Gadgets larger than a mobile phone will be subject to further screening.
Why The Ban?
As reported by Reuters, this curtailment has been in the pipeline for many weeks now, ever since the government received a security threat. Several airlines will come under scrutiny because of this new rule. Officials confirmed a report from Associated Press, saying that the rule would apply to 10 airports in eight Middle Eastern and African countries.
Which Airports Are Affected?
The report says that the ban will affect the airports in Cairo, Amman, Kuwait, Casablanca, Doha, Riyadh, Jeddah, Istanbul, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai.
However, no American airline has been put under the purview of this ban. Passengers on American carriers will be permitted to carry large devices like laptops, portable DVD players, cameras, and tablets.
News agencies like CNN have reported that the electronics ban is related to several bombing attempts that have been planned by Al Qaeda on U.S.-bound airlines these past few weeks.
Royal Jordanian Airlines, UAE's official airlines, had tweeted that passengers flying to the United States would not be allowed to carry most of the common gadgets on the plane. Passengers could, however, carry cell phones and medical devices. The tweet has since been deleted from the airline's official Twitter page.
Saudi-based pro-government newspaper Al Riyadh reported that aviation officials had notified that airlines taking off from Saudi airports to U.S. airports directly would have to let their passengers know that they must store laptops and tablets in the check-in luggage.
The report further said that these orders were communicated to the Interior Ministry of Saudi by U.S. officials.
The White House has desisted from commenting on the issue. David Lapan, a spokesperson of the DHS said that it will not comment on "potential security precautions," and maintained that an official statement would be released when needed.
John Kelly, the secretary of the DHS, had personally informed all the congressmen about the ban per reports.
This is not the first time the U.S. government has upped its security measures pertaining to electronic gadgets. Back in 2014, mobile phones and other gadgets were required to be turned on at the checking kiosks at airports prior to boarding.