US bans most electronic devices on flights from Middle Eastern countries
In what could be a response to a specific terrorist threat, the U.S. government has banned most electronic devices from passenger cabins on airlines from 13 countries in the Middle East and Africa.
The ban is temporary. Royal Jordanian Airlines tweeted that it will be in effect for the next 96 hours. The airline later deleted the tweet and is not commenting on the ban.
The U.S. government will not confirm the ban, but Reuters is reporting that the policy will be announced on Tuesday.
The ban does not apply to cell phones or medical devices, but does include laptops, tablets, electronic games and cameras. Those items can be stowed in checked baggage, however.
Reuters reported the policy change would be officially announced on Tuesday.
U.S. officials on Monday would not confirm or deny the temporary ban.
"We have no comment on potential security precautions, but will provide any update as appropriate," said a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security.
But the ban appears to apply to 13 countries for the next 96 hours, according to Fox News, and could be in response to a new intelligence threat — not related to President Trump's revised travel ban, which was frozen before it took effect last week.
The fact that specific devices are targeted and that the ban will be in effect for only a few days points to a specific terrorist threat uncovered by our intelligence agencies.
This is not a routine precaution. In fact, it's nearly unprecedented. If the government is asking the airlines to impose such an unpopular policy that could lose them money, you can bet it's not because someone at DHS hates Muslims or wants to make a point about the travel ban.
Reuters is reporting that the airports in question include Amman; Cairo; Kuwait City; Doha; Dubai; Istanbul; Abu Dhabi; Casablanca, Morocco; and Riyadh and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. You can imagine President Erdoğan hitting the ceiling over the inclusion of a Turkish airport on the list.
Hopefully, announcing such a policy will deter any terrorists who may have designs on Middle Eastern aircraft.