Uncharged mobiles to be barred from flights to the US
PASSENGERS travelling to the US will have to turn on their electronic devices at security to prove the gadgets are not concealing bombs.
In light of mounting threats of an al-Qa’ida attack, mobile phones, tablet computers and laptops that do not power up will be banned from flights to the US and their owners may have to undergo “vigorous” body searches by security.
US security officials have singled out smartphones, including Apple iPhones andSamsung Galaxy devices, as needing particular attention during security checks on passengers for direct US-bound flights from Africa, Europe and the Middle East.
It is not yet clear if the security clampdown will be implemented on flights from Dublin Airport.
US officials confirmed high-level anti-terror checks would be implemented immediately at certain foreign airports.
“During the security examination, officers may also ask that owners power up some devices, including cell phones,” the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said.
“Powerless devices will not be permitted onboard the aircraft. The traveller may also undergo additional screening.”
US officials say a number of terror groups have discovered new methods of concealing incendiary devices inside phones, and other electronic equipment, to avoid detection.
Airlines that do not step up security measures could face a ban on their flights entering the US.
US officials did not disclose which airports would be conducting additional screening.
However, the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) told the Irish Independent that it was “liaising with the Department of Transport in relation to any proposed changes regarding aviation security at Irish airports”.
Aer Lingus said it was “looking into the regulations and will advise customers accordingly”.
The Department of Transport said it does not comment in detail on security issues but “is in regular contact with the US authorities”.
“Passengers bound to the US from Irish airports are already pre screened to US standards.
The Department does not envisage any changes for passengers but will inform the public if any changes occur,” the Department added.
American intelligence officials have been concerned about new al-Qa’ida efforts to produce a bomb that would go undetected through airport security.
Intelligence shows that al-Qai’da operatives in Syria and Yemen may have developed bombs that could be placed in mobile telephones or tablets and avoid detection by airport security, to bring down any aircraft bound for America.
Bomb-makers from both the Yemen-based al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula and the Islamist Nusra Front, an al-Qa’ida affiliate in Syria, have been collaborating to develop the explosives and plots to detonate them.