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U.S., Britain Ban Electronic Devices From Cabins Of Flights From Middle East

  • RFE/RL

iPads would not be permitted on board under the new rules.

The United States and Britain announced on March 21 that they are banning electronic devices from the cabins of direct incoming flights from Middle Eastern and North African countries due to potential terrorist threats.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said passengers on nine airlines from eight Middle Eastern and North African countries must transport electronics -- such as laptop computers, tablets, cameras, DVD players, and electronic games -- as checked luggage in the cargo holds of flights into the United States. It said mobile phones were exempt from the new rules.

The order applies to nonstop flights to the United States from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan; Egypt, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.

The nine airlines affected by the U.S. ban are Royal Jordanian, EgyptAir, Turkish Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Kuwait Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Qatar Airways, Emirates, and Etihad Airways.

The airlines have until 7 a.m. GMT on March 25 to implement the order.

Meanwhile, Britain says it has agreed to adopt the enhanced security measures on direct flights into the United Kingdom from six countries -- Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, and Saudi Arabia.

A U.S. Department of Homeland Security statement said "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.”

"We have reason to be concerned about attempts by terrorist groups to circumvent aviation security and terrorist groups continue to target aviation interests," the statement said. "Implementing additional security measures enhances our ability to mitigate further attempts against the overseas aviation industry."

U.S. officials said the order will remain in place "until the threat changes."

However, an Emirates spokeswoman told the Reuters news agency that the airline understood the directive would remain valid until 14 October 2017.

The official news agency of Saudi Arabia confirmed that flights from Riyadh and Jeddah would be affected.

Some 50 flights a day are expected to be affected by the ban.

Turkish Transport Minister Ahmet Arslan told reporters on March 21 that the ban was "not a right move."

With reporting by AP and Reuters
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