The security restrictions cover any electronic device larger than a smartphone – this would include laptops, tablets, e-readers and other tech gadgets.
Passengers carrying such devices will have to check them in before clearing security and boarding their plane, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
— Jon Ostrower (@jonostrower) March 20, 2017
Security officials cited terrorism concerns and reports that militant groups plan to smuggle explosive devices inside electronic devices into the U.S., as the reasons behind the indefinite restrictions.
The affected airports are in Cairo; Istanbul; Kuwait City; Doha, Qatar; Casablanca, Morocco; Amman, Jordan; Riyadh and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; and Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.
The nine airlines affected by the restrictions are Egyptair, Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways, Kuwait Airways, Qatar Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Royal Jordanian Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines and Turkish Airlines.
U.S. carriers are not affected because none of them fly to the U.S. from the airports in the list.
Intelligence “indicates terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation” by “smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items,” a news story from CNN quoted a U.S. official as saying. “Just evaluating all the intelligence, we believe that the threat is still prominent against aircraft and airports.”
American officials who spoke to reporters said the latest restriction has nothing to do with President Donald Trump’s attempts to impose a travel ban on six majority-Muslim countries.
The government “did not target specific nations. We relied upon evaluated intelligence to determine which airports were affected,” according to a Globe and Mail story quoting a DHS spokesperson.
It was just two week ago in March 6, when Trump came out with a revised executive order which bars citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen from travelling to the U.S. for 90 days. So far, two federal judges have rejected parts of the ban on the grounds that it discriminates against Muslims.
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