The US government is temporarily barring passengers on certain flights originating in eight countries in the MENA region from bringing electronics items including laptops, iPads, and cameras in carry-on luggage starting Tuesday.
The reason for the ban is not immediately clear, but statements from the likes of Royal Jordanian Airlines have made it clear that the ban is now being enforced.
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, a US official said.
The ban is indefinite and will affect nine airlines in total, he added.
According to Royal Jordanian, mobile phones and medical devices are excluded from the ban. Everything else would need to be packed in checked luggage.
The nature of the security measure suggested that it is driven by the intelligence of a possible attack, said Brian Jenkins, an aviation security expert at Rand Corp.
There could be concern about inadequate passenger screening or even conspiracies involving insiders — airport or airline employees — in some countries, he said.
Most major airports in the US 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.
The ban would begin before a meeting of the US-led coalition against the Islamic State group in Washington on Wednesday. Many top Arab officials are expected to attend the State Department gathering.