US to ban laptops and tablets from Middle East-US flights

The US is barring passengers on flights originating in several Muslim-majority countries from carrying any electronic device larger than a cellphone starting on Tuesday, a Middle East-based carrier said.

US officials were not authorized to disclose the details of the ban ahead of a public statement that was scheduled for 10:00 GMT on Tuesday.

The ban was revealed on Monday in statements from Royal Jordanian Airlines and the official news agency of Saudi Arabia.

A US official, on the condition of anonymity, told Associated Press news agency that the ban will apply to nonstop flights to the US from 10 international airports serving the cities of Cairo in Egypt; Amman in Jordan; Kuwait City in Kuwait; Casablanca in Morocco; Doha in Qatar; Riyadh and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia; Istanbul in Turkey; and Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

The ban was indefinite, said the official.

A second US official said the ban will affect nine airlines in total, and the Transportation Security Administration will inform the affected airlines at 7:00 GMT on Tuesday.

The move comes a week after President Donald Trump’s second bid to curb travel from a group of Muslim-majority nations was blocked by the courts.

Royal Jordanian said cellphones and medical devices were excluded from the ban. Everything else, such as laptops, tablets, e-readers, DVD players, electronic games and cameras, would need to be packed in checked luggage.

Royal Jordanian said the electronics ban affects its flights to New York, Chicago, Detroit and Montreal.

David Lapan, a spokesman for Homeland Security Department, declined to comment. The Transportation Security Administration, part of Homeland Security, also declined to comment.

A US government official said such a ban has been considered for several weeks. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to disclose the internal security discussions by the federal government.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly phoned lawmakers over the weekend to brief them on aviation security issues that have prompted the impending electronics ban, according a congressional aide briefed on the discussion.

The aide was not authorised to speak publicly about the issue and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The ban would begin just before Wednesday’s meeting of the US-led coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group in Washington.

A number of top Arab officials were expected to attend the State Department gathering. It was unclear whether their travel plans were related to any increased worry about security threats.

 

Source: Aljazeera