The ban of carry-on electronics on flights was prompted by intelligence gathered about an ISIS plot to target the West, it has been reported.
The threat was judged by the US to be ‘substantiated’ and ‘credible’.
The US and UK announced restrictions on large electronics in carry-on baggage for direct flights from certain Middle Eastern and North African nations on Tuesday.
The move is allegedly based on the suspicion that Islamic State are working on ways to smuggle explosives on to planes by hiding them in electronics.
Crucial information was apparently gathered during a raid against Al Qaeda in Yemen in January that killed Navy SEAL ‘Ryan’ Owens.
The intelligence centred around al Qaeda’s ‘successful development’ of compact battery bombs that fit inside laptops or other devices, sources claimed.
The ban of carry-on electronics on flights was reportedly prompted by intelligence gathered about an ISIS plot to target the West. Above, the airports and countries targeted by the new American and British policies
The battery bombs would need to be manually triggered which is why the electronics ban is only for cabin luggage not baggage that is checked in, a source told the Daily Beast.
Al Qaeda’s head bomb maker in the Arabian Peninsula, Ibrahim al-Asiri, has been working on hiding bombs in even smaller devices, the source added.
Lithium batteries ignited and destroyed UPS Flight 6 in September 2010, killing two crew members when it crashed near Dubai – providing inspiration for the terrorist group
The tip-off was deemed to be ‘substantiated’ and ‘credible’ by the US.
Two attacks on flights in the last two years were cited by the US Department of Homeland Security – the crash of a Russian jet over the Egyptian Sinai in October 2015 and a failed attempt to bring down a jet that had taken off from Mogadishu, Somalia last year.
Airlines flying from the 10 mentioned airports will have four days to implement the new ban on carry on electronics including laptops, iPads and cameras. Above, a stock image of a laptop
The intelligence centred around al Qaeda’s ‘successful development’ of compact battery bombs that fit inside laptops or other devices, sources claimed. Lithium batteries ignited and destroyed UPS Flight 6 in September 2010, killing two crew members when it crashed (pictured) near Dubai – providing inspiration for the terrorist group
The jet made an emergency landing after insurgent group Al-Shababb reportedly got a laptop onboard the flight that had been rigged as a bomb and tore apart its cabin.
‘Since they weren’t high enough, the explosion wasn’t catastrophic to the plane and they were able to land,’ one source told The Daily Beast. ‘The bomber got sucked out of the hole, but it was proof of concept.’
Eric Swalwell, a Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee, told ABC News there was ‘a new aviation threat’.
‘We know that our adversaries, terrorist groups in the United States and outside the United States, seek to bring down a US-bound airliner,’ he said.
‘That’s one of their highest value targets. And we’re doing everything we can right now to prevent that from happening.’
The countries included in the ban were selected due to their exposure to Al Qaeda groups and members who might try to bring a battery bomb on a plane heading for the US, a third source claimed.
Meanwhile, ABC reports claimed the airports affected by the ban were not directly named in the most recent threat intelligence gathered by authorities.
Information was gathered during a raid against al Qaeda in Yemen in January that killed Navy SEAL senior chief petty officer William ‘Ryan’ Owens (pictured)
They claimed the list was based on intelligence analysis paired with other government information.
The US names more countries in its list, applying the new restrictions on flights coming from international airports in Amman, Jordan; Kuwait City, Kuwait; Cairo,Egypt; Istanbul, Turkey; Jeddah and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Casablanca, Morocco; Doha, Qatar; and Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.
The UK ban applies more simply to incoming flights from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.
America’s Department of Homeland Security was the first to announce the decision, saying that passengers on airlines flying directly to the US from 10 airports in eight countries will soon only be allowed to bring cellphones on board with them.
Other electronics, including laptops and tablets, will be indefinitely banned from the passenger cabin, and must be checked in checked baggage if they are brought on the plane at all.
The new restrictions are based on ‘evaluated intelligence’ that terrorist groups are working on ‘innovative methods’ for attacks. Officials didn’t elaborate on the intelligence but CNN reports that Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP) is specifically the cause for the changes.
The British government added legitimacy to the concerns by following through with their similar ban.
The British and American bans differ in which countries they target, how they are implemented and their definition of a large electronic.
When asked by the BBC why the US list of nations differs from the UK’s, a spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said: ‘We have each taken our own decisions.’
THE ELECTRONICS BAN: DIFFERENCES IN THE AMERICAN AND BRITISH RESTRICTIONS
US BOUND FLIGHTS
Carry-on OK: Cellphones and any electronic smaller than a cellphone
Will need to be checked: Laptops, tablets, e-readers, cameras, portable DVD players, electronic game units larger than a smartphone and tavel printers/scanners
Timeline: Airlines will have four days to implement the new security order or face being barred from flying to the United States
- Mohammed V. Int’l – Casablanca, Morocco
- Ataturk Int’l – Istanbul, Turkey
- Queen Alia Int’l – Amman, Jordan
- Cairo Int’l – Cairo, Egypt
- King Abdulaziz Int’l – Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
- King Khalid Int’l – Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
- Abu Dhabi Int’l – Abu Dhabi, UAE
- Dubai Int’l – Dubai, UAE
- Kuwait Int’l – Kuwait City, Kuwait
- Hamad Int’l – Doha, Qatar
- Royal Jordanian
- Turkish Airlines
- Saudi Arabian Airlines
- Kuwait Airways
- Royal Air Maroc
- Qatar Airways
- Emirates Air
- Ethiad Airways
UK BOUND FLIGHTS
Carry-on OK: Electronics smaller 16cm long by 9.3cm wide by 1.5cm deep
Will need to be checked: Any electronic larger than that size
Timeline: Airlines will be allowed to implement the new rules at their leisure
- Saudi Arabia
- British Airways
- Thomas Cook
American officials have given the airlines four days to implement the security order or face being barred from flying to the United States, while in Britain the airlines are being allowed to implement the new measures at their leisure.
The American ban also applies to all electronics larger than a cellphone while the British ban gives the specific measurements of any electronic larger than 16cm long, 9.3cm wide and 1.5cm deep.
About 50 flights a day, all on foreign carriers, will be impacted in the US. Officials said no US-based airlines have non-stop flights from those cities to the United States, so they will not be impacted.
The officials said the decision was prompted by ‘evaluated intelligence’ about ongoing potential threats to airplanes bound for the United States. The officials would not discuss the timing of the intelligence or if any particular terror group is thought to be planning an attack.
CNN, citing an unnamed .S official, said the ban on electronics on certain airlines was related to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and that some information came from a recent .S special forces raid in Yemen. The group has planned several foiled bombing attempts on Western-bound airlines.
At the daily White House press briefing, Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that ‘elevated intelligence’ about international terrorism led the US to make the chance.
Spicer, who was reading aloud from a Department of Homeland Security statement, did not explain what made the intelligence assessment ‘elevated.’ But a different White House spokesman told DailyMail.com after Spicer’s daily briefing that he meant to cite ‘evaluated’ intelligence.
That wording matched a statement that DHS issued earlier in the day.
‘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 agency said.
At the daily White House press briefing, Press Secretary Sean Spicer (pictured) said that ‘elevated intelligence’ about international terrorism led the US to make the chance
‘Based on this information, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly and Transportation Security Administration Acting Administrator Huban Gowadia have determined it is necessary to enhance security procedures for passengers at certain last point of departure airports to the United States.’
Spicer punted further questions to the Transportation Security Administration.
The new carry on restrictions come a little more than a year after the bombing of Daallo Airlines Flight 159, a flight from Somalia to Djibouti.
The bombing took out a piece of the plane a little more than a row, but only resulted in the death of the bomber and two other injuries. It was believed that the bomb was rigged to a timer device on the bomber’s laptop.
The flight had been delayed by 20 minutes, so it was believed that the timing of the bomb was premature and may have been intended to occur about halfway through the flight.
Since it occurred earlier though, the plane was not yet at its cruising altitude which would have been more dangerous. The pilots were able to land the jet safely.
The ban would affect laptops, iPads, cameras and most other electronics. Royal Jordanian Airlines tweeted about the ban Monday, telling passengers that medical devices would be allowed onboard with passengers.
Details of the ban were first disclosed by Royal Jordanian and the official news agency of Saudi Arabia.
In its statement, Royal Jordanian said the electronics ban would affect its flights to New York, Chicago, Detroit and Montreal.
Brian Jenkins, an aviation-security expert at the Rand Corp., said the nature of the security measure suggested that it was driven by intelligence of a possible attack. There could be concern about inadequate passenger screening or even conspiracies involving insiders – airport or airline employees – in some countries, he said.
The new carry on restrictions come a little more than a year after the bombing of Daallo Airlines Flight 159, a flight from Somalia to Djibouti. The bombing took out a piece of the plane a little more than a row, but only resulted in the death of the bomber and two other injuries
It was believed that the bomb was rigged to a timer device on the bomber’s laptop
Terrifying footage: On board the Somalian bomb horror jet
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 authorized to speak publicly about the issue and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The administration officials who briefed reporters about the ban said foreign officials were told about the impending order starting Sunday.
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.
The ban would begin just before Wednesday’s meeting of the US-led coalition against the Islamic State 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.
Another aviation-security expert, Jeffrey Price, said there could be downsides to the policy.
‘There would be a huge disadvantage to having everyone put their electronics in checked baggage,’ said Price, a professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver. He said thefts from baggage would skyrocket, as when Britain tried a similar ban in 2006, and some laptops have batteries that can catch fire – an event easier to detect in the cabin than the hold.
Most major airports in the United States have a computer tomography or CT scanner for checked baggage, which creates a detailed picture of a bag’s contents. They can warn an operator of potentially dangerous material, and may provide better security than the X-ray machines used to screen passengers and their carry-on bags. All checked baggage must be screened for explosives.