A new electronics ban prevents any electronic devices larger than a cellphone from boarding US-bound flights out of 10 cities in the MENA region, including Cairo.
The US government announced today that, until further notice, any passengers coming into the United States from 10 cities in Muslim-majority countries would not be allowed to bring electronics larger than a cellphone in their carry-on luggage. Laptops, iPads, and cameras are among some of the items that will not be allowed into the cabin of the plane. The ban only extends to carry-on luggage, so you can still bring any electronics in your checked luggage.
The 10 destinations included in the ban are Cairo, Amman, Kuwait City, Casablanca, Doha, Riyadh, Jeddah, Istanbul, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai; cities that are not on President Trump's travel ban. News of the ban first surfaced yesterday in a statement by Royal Jordanian Airlines and was later reported on by the Saudi Press Agency. The reasons behind this sudden measure are still unclear, although there is some speculation.
The US-led coalition against ISIL will be meeting in Washington on Wednesday and a number of Arab officials are expected to attend. There is speculation that this ban was announced two days before the meeting to increase security measures and reduce the risk of any attacks on the Arab leaders’ flight to the States.
A US official, speaking anonymously to AP, revealed that the ban is only on direct flights and is effective immediately until the US government announces otherwise. Meanwhile, Brian Jenkins, an aviation security expert at the Rand Corporation, said that the move suggests that the US received intelligence of a possible attack ahead of Wednesday’s meeting, reports ABC News. He explains that there is little faith in the passenger screening process at some of the airports in the cities banned by the US; and that this is them attempting to take control of the situation, at least for a little bit.
However, it seems that the ban fails to consider certain things; a similar ban was announced in Britain in 2006 and the number of valuable things stolen from checked luggage was astounding. Certain battery-powered electronics have flammable batteries, which is a disaster waiting to happen considering a fire in the cabin of the plane would be much more detectable than a fire in the cargo hold, in fact, French investigators believe that an unattended electronic overheating was the reason why EgyptAir Flight 804 went down over the Mediterranean.