US to seek more security on international flights

Department of Homeland Security  MGN

Airports who failed to meet new security requirements could still face future restrictions, sources said.

Under the previous policy, US -bound passengers traveling from 10 airports in the Middle East had to store large electronic devices, including tablets and cameras, in their checked luggage, as the Trump administration sought to address terrorist threats.

Officials refused to say what the screening would entail or whether it would delay passengers, insisting that that depends on how carriers and foreign airports choose to implement the screening, which appears aimed at trying to prevent terrorists from smuggling bombs hidden in laptops onboard a plane.

The decision not to impose new restrictions on laptops is a boost to USA airlines who had anxious that an expansion of the ban to Europe or other locations could have caused significant logistical problems and potentially deterred some travel plans.

USA officials briefed on the plans told Fox News that the DHS will push for the measures on domestic and foreign carriers coming into the US from all 280 ports of departure across 105 countries.

Kelly said he believes most airlines will adhere to the measures.

Airline officials told Reuters they are concerned about adding new enhanced security measures to all airports worldwide that have direct flights to the United States rather than focus them on airports where threats are highest.

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The DHS officials said it would be "a mistake" that puts "passengers at risk" if they don't comply. Some of them, including the European Commission, had pushed back against USA threats to extend the ban.

The decision follows intelligence, reportedly gathered from Islamic State in Syria by Israeli spy services, suggesting a lethal new threat from bombs that could be concealed in digital devices and that could evade detection by airport screening devices. None of the airlines immediately commented.

"We can not play worldwide whack-a-mole with each new threat", DHS Secretary John Kelly said during a security conference on Wednesday.

Kelly, who was speaking in Washington on Wednesday afternoon, said he planned a "step by step " security enhancement plan that included short, medium-term, and longer-term improvements that would take at least a year to implement completely.

The U.S. sent technical experts to Brussels this week to discuss the security measures further.

The technology is already used for screening checked luggage, but the cost and larger size of the CT scanners has held back their use for carry-on bags.

One big issue facing policymakers was the potential safety implications related to past problems with laptop batteries and storing large numbers of laptops in the cargo hold.

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