Lap­tops, tablets banned on US-bound flights

New Straits Times - - World -

WASHINGTON: The United States warned yes­ter­day that ex­trem­ists plan to tar­get planes with bombs hid­den in elec­tronic de­vices, and banned car­ry­ing them on flights from 10 air­ports in Turkey, the Mid­dle East and North Africa.

Se­nior US of­fi­cials said nine air­lines from eight coun­tries had been given 96 hours, be­gin­ning at 0700 GMT, to ban any de­vice big­ger than a cell­phone or smart­phone from the cabin.

Lap­tops, tablets and portable game con­soles are af­fected by the ban, which ap­plies to di­rect flights to the US, but they may still be stowed in the hold in checked bag­gage. Pas­sen­gers on about 50 flights per day from some of the busiest hubs in the Mid­dle East, Turkey and North Africa will be obliged to fol­low the new emer­gency rul­ing.

“The re­stric­tions are in place due to eval­u­ated in­tel­li­gence and we think it’s the right thing to do and the right places to do it to se­cure the safety of the trav­el­ing pub­lic,” one US of­fi­cial said.

The of­fi­cials, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity, re­fused to dis­cuss the “in­tel­li­gence in­for­ma­tion” that led the Trans­porta­tion Se­cu­rity Ad­min­is­tra­tion to is­sue the or­der.

CNN quoted a US of­fi­cial as say­ing that the ban was believed to be re­lated to a threat posed by al-Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula.

“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,” an of­fi­cial said.

The air­ports af­fected by the ban are Queen Alia In­ter­na­tional in Am­man, Jor­dan; Cairo In­ter­na­tional in Egypt; Ataturk in Is­tan­bul, Turkey; King Ab­du­laziz In­ter­na­tional in Jed­dah, Saudi Ara­bia; King Khalid In­ter­na­tional in Riyadh, Saudi Ara­bia; Kuwait In­ter­na­tional; Mo­hammed V In­ter­na­tional in Casablanca, Morocco; Ha­mad In­ter­na­tional in Doha, Qatar; and the Dubai and Abu Dhabi air­ports in the United Arab

We par­tic­u­larly em­pha­sise how this will not ben­e­fit the pas­sen­ger and that re­verse steps or a soft­en­ing should be adopted.

AHMET ARSLAN Trans­port Min­is­ter of Turkey

Emi­rates.

The ban af­fects Royal Jor­da­nian, Egyp­tAir, Turk­ish Air­lines, Saudi Air­lines, Kuwait Air­ways, Royal Air Maroc, Qatar Air­ways, Emi­rates and Eti­had Air­ways.

Turkey said it would ask the US to re­verse the ban.

“We par­tic­u­larly em­pha­sise how this will not ben­e­fit the pas­sen­ger and that re­verse steps or a soft­en­ing should be adopted,” said Trans­port Min­is­ter Ahmet Arslan. AFP

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