by Mark Albert
WASHINGTON (TVR) – U.S. authorities on Tuesday issued a pre-dawn order implementing a sweeping ban on virtually all electronic devices for fights to the United States from 10 airports in eight Middle Eastern and North African countries, acting, they said, on intelligence information they would not disclose publicly but stating that the action was “necessary to enhance security.”
“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,” a senior administration official told reporters in a Monday night briefing that was under an information embargo until 6am this morning.
Virtually all electronic devices including laptops, tablets, cameras, DVD players, and electronic games will not be allowed into the aircraft cabin and must be put in a traveler’s checked luggage, which is inaccessible during the flight.
Cell phones and medical devices necessary during the flight will still be allowed.
President Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, told reporters at the White House daily briefing Tuesday afternoon, “The steps that are being taken are commensurate with the intelligence that we have.”
U.S. Targets 10 Airports
The impacted flights are all non-stop to the U.S. from Jordan (AMM), Egypt (CAI), Turkey (IST), Saudi Arabia (JED & RUH), Kuwait (KWI), Qatar (DOH), United Arab Emirates (DXB & AUH), and Morocco (CMN).
The airlines that operate those routes are: Royal Jordanian Airlines, Egypt Air, Turkish Airlines, Saudi Airlines, Kuwait Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Qatar Airways, Emirates, and Etihad Airways.
About 50 flights a day are expected to be impacted, U.S. authorities said.
No American carrier flies from those countries non-stop to the U.S., although American citizens traveling on those routes will have to comply with the new electronics ban.
The new rules do not apply to flight crews.
Amnesty International USA immediately criticized the ban, saying in a statement “this could be yet more bigotry disguised as policy.”
“This could be the latest in what looks set to be a long line of discriminatory measures deployed by the Trump administration against Muslims around the world,” Amnesty USA’s Naureen Shah said.
United Kingdom Issues Ban For 6 Countries
Tuesday afternoon, the United Kingdom issued its own, slightly different ban.
It bars most electronic devices on non-stop flights to the U.K. from Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia, and Saudi Arabia.
Unlike the American electronics ban, the U.K. version will bar some bigger smart phones from flights if they are larger than 6.3 inches long by 3.66 inches wide by .60 inches deep, the official directive said.
–>WATCH: Mark Albert discusses the impact of the electronics ban on WBAY-TV