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New US Muslim ban: Airlines banned from taking computers and I-Pads

New US Muslim ban: Airlines banned from taking computers and I-Pads

Egypt Air, Emirates, Ethihad, Saudia, Qatar Airways, Royal Air Moroc, Turkish Airlines and other airlines flying non stop from the Middle East to the United States of America will have a lot of unhappy passengers thanks to the U.S. Government. Forget working on the internet while flying. Is this a hidden way to assist European and U.S. carriers to connect passengers from the Middle East through Europe?

The United States is barring passengers on flights originating in several Muslim-majority countries from carrying any electronic device larger than a cellphone starting on Tuesday.

US officials were not authorised to disclose the details of the ban ahead of a public statement that was scheduled for 10:00 GMT on Tuesday.

The ban was revealed on Monday in statements from Royal Jordanian Airlines and the official news agency of Saudi Arabia.

A US official, on the condition of anonymity, told Associated Press news agency that 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.

The ban was indefinite, said the official.

A second US official said the ban will affect nine airlines in total, and the Transportation Security Administration will inform the affected airlines at 7:00 GMT on Tuesday.

The move comes a week after President Donald Trump’s second bid to curb travel from a group of Muslim-majority nations was blocked by the courts .

Royal Jordanian said cellphones and medical devices were excluded from the ban. Everything else, such as laptops, tablets, e-readers, DVD players, electronic games and cameras, would need to be packed in checked luggage.

Royal Jordanian said the electronics ban affects its flights to New York, Chicago, Detroit and Montreal.

A US government official said such a ban has been considered for several weeks.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly phoned lawmakers over the weekend to brief them on aviation security issues that have prompted the impending electronics ban, according a congressional aide briefed on the discussion.

The aide was not authorised to speak publicly about the issue and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The ban would begin just before Wednesday’s meeting of the US-led coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group in Washington.

Brian Jenkins, an aviation-security expert at the Rand Corp., said the nature of the security measure suggested that it was driven by intelligence of a possible attack.

He added that there could be concern about inadequate passenger screening or even conspiracies involving insiders – airport or airline employees in some countries.

Trevor Jensen, an aviation consultant and former airline captain, told Al Jazeera that that keeping a large number of computers with lithium batteries in the hold also presented safety issues.

“I hope that we are not just knee-jerking here and that this is a credible threat – that the safety issues have also been very carefully thought through.”

Jensen questioned why, from a security standpoint, only several airports had been included in the measures.

“If this was a credible threat, I think they would be looking at other airports. Because, why couldn’t you fly from Doha, for example, into Zurich, and from Zurich across [to the US] … there are ways to get around it,” he said.

“Looking at some of these legs, the passengers flying on board are business people who do want to work in-flight. Security is first, but it’s got to be credible. And we’re not getting any more information to support that at the moment,” Jensen added.

Another aviation-security expert, professor Jeffrey Price of Metropolitan State University of Denver, said there was another disadvantage to having everyone put their electronics in checked baggage.

Thefts from baggage would skyrocket, as when Britain tried a similar ban in 2006, he said.

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