Electronics restricted on flights from certain Middle Eastern airports

DHS cited "new intelligence" on the potential for smuggling explosives.

ByABC News
March 21, 2017, 6:01 AM

— -- Passengers travelling on certain airlines from countries in the Middle East and Africa to the United States will no longer be allowed to carry-on some electronic devices with them, according to a new Homeland Security directive.

The emergency rule specifically targets nine airlines operating flights to the U.S. from 10 airports in eight countries, among them Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Fliers will be banned from bringing electronic devices larger than a cellular phone aboard the plane with them, and must instead include objects like laptops, tablets and cameras in checked luggage.

"Evaluated intelligence indicates that terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation, to include smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items," notes the Department of Homeland Security in a release explaining the order.

The department did not cite a specific threat in its explanation of the decision, but did indicate that "new intelligence" led to the rule's implementation.

On Monday, in a tweet and Facebook post that were later deleted, Royal Jordanian Airlines informed passengers that, starting Tuesday, they would no longer be allowed to carry-on electronic devices, except cell phones and medical devices, due to a directive from the U.S. government.

Royal Jordanian did not respond to inquiries from ABC News, but senior administration officials confirmed that the airline is included in the list for which the restrictions apply. The other airlines include: Egypt Air, Emirates Airlines, Etihad Airways, Kuwait Airways, Qatar Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Saudia Arabia Airlines and Turkish Airlines.

Medical devices will be the only electronics larger than cell phones permitted on those airlines' flights originating from: Cairo International Airport in Egypt, Queen Alia International Airport in Jordan, Kuwait International Airports in Kuwait, Mohammed V International Airport in Morocco, Hamad International Airport in Qatar, King Abdulaziz and King Khalid International Airports in Saudi Arabia, Istanbul Atatürk Airport in Turkey, and Abu Dhabi and Dubai International Airports in the United Arab Emirates.

The Department of Homeland Security says that the airlines have 96 hours from notification of the changes Tuesday morning to implement the directive. The 10 airports cited by DHS comprise fewer than 5 percent of the more than 250 airports with flights to the U.S.

Homeland security did not provide an end date for the restrictions, saying only that they will "remain in place until the threat changes."

In 2016, a suicide bomber carried a bomb, believed to be concealed in a laptop, onto a flight out of Somalia.

ABC News' David Kerley and Daniel Steinberger contributed to this report.

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