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Smartphones, laptops face increased checks on US-bound flights

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-07-07

The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will not allow cellphones or other electronic devices on US-bound planes at some overseas airports if the devices cannot be turned on as part of a security check.

As part of the increased scrutiny at certain airports, security officers may ask travellers to turn on their electronic devices at checkpoints and if they do not have power, the devices will not be allowed on planes, the TSA said.

US officials are concerned that a cellphone, tablet, laptop or other electronic device could be used as a bomb. A US source said laptop computers are among the devices officials may require passengers to turn on as part of routine security screenings.

The officials singled out smartphones, including iPhones made by Apple Inc and Galaxy phones made by Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, for extra security checks on US-bound direct flights from Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The TSA also called for closer checks on travellers’ shoes.

The new measures, announced on Sunday, are part of the TSA's effort to boost security amid concerns that Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the Islamist al Nusra Front, al Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, are plotting to blow up an airliner, US officials said.

US and other intelligence services say AQAP is passing on sophisticated bombmaking expertise to militants fighting in Syria for use against Western targets – most prominently, passenger aircraft.

AQAP "is always the group we think about when we talk about undetectable bombs", a US intelligence official told AFP on Friday.

French and British authorities have urged passengers to allow extra time to get past the additional measures.

The French move, due to come into force on Monday and Tuesday, follows similar action already implemented by Britain. The procedures  affect Europe's two busiest airports, Heathrow in London and Charles de Gaulle in Paris.

Passengers in Britain have long faced tight security measures at airports following high-profile threats, including a failed attempt by British "shoe bomber" Richard Reid to blow up a US-bound flight in 2001.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

Date created : 2014-07-07

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