Terrorists have “developed innovative ways” to conceal explosives in electronic devices that are capable of avoiding detection by some airport security systems, according to a report from CNN. The finding from US intelligence and law enforcement agencies was a factor in the recent US ban against carry-on electronics larger than a smartphone on direct flights from eight Muslim-majority countries. The bomb-hiding laptops can be successfully “turned on long enough” to avoid suspicion at airports, CNN said in a TV segment.
Intelligence agencies declined to comment on the report’s specifics to CNN, which claims that terrorist groups have obtained their own airport security devices in an attempt to create explosives that would go unnoticed in some screenings in the United States and abroad.
CNN has learned that, through a series of tests conducted late last year, the FBI determined the laptop bombs would be far more difficult for airport screeners to detect than previous versions terrorist groups have produced. The FBI testing focused on specific models of screening machines that are approved by the Transportation Security Administration and are used in the US and around the world.
The US ban affects inbound, direct flights from Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Qatar, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates. The UK has instituted a similar ban that applies to flights from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Turkey. Australia has announced that it will implement additional security checks for passengers traveling from Doha, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, which may include “targeted screening of electronic device.”
Last week, The Guardian reported that the heightened flight security was “partly prompted by a previously undisclosed plot involving explosives hidden in a fake iPad.” Banned items (laptops, tablets, e-readers, and so on) must be stored in checked luggage, where it can be harder to trigger explosives from the cabin and potentially less catastrophic if a detonation were to occur. BuzzFeed News previously reported on “increased chatter” from militants aiming to hide explosives in laptop PCs. Some airlines have responded to the ban’s inconvenience by offering passengers free iPads during flight.