ISLAMIC terrorists have devised a devastating new laptop bomb that could bring down a jumbo — it emerged last night.
In a dramatic move, Theresa May ordered airlines to ban passengers from taking large electronic devices such as tablets into the cabin on non-stop UK bound-flights from six countries including Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Only smartphones measuring less than 16cm by 9.3cm will be exempt.
The new bomb-making technology is believed to have already spread rapidly among a raft of major Islamic terrorist organisations, senior sources have revealed.
Security chiefs are working on the assumption that it has already fallen into the hands of ISIS in Syria and Libya, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and al-Shabaab in Somalia.
Wide knowledge of the capability is why senior officials in MI5 and MI6 advised the PM to enforce the ban across such a wide sweep on countries.
The alarm was first raised last year after al-Shabaab smuggled an explosive-filled laptop onto a flight out of the Somali capital of Mogadishu.
The bomb was meant to target senior Western officials on board the flight, but it only killed the bomber who was blown from the jet.
Yesterday’s crackdown came just hours after the US order a similar move.
The PM’s official spokesman yesterday declined to say whether the new rules were triggered by specific intelligence.
He said: “Safety and security is our highest priority. Decisions like these are not taken lightly.
“We are confident our measures are proportionate.”
It sparked an angry response in Turkey and the Middle East and threatens chaos for passengers.
Travellers will now be forced to check-in laptops, tablets such as iPads and Kindles when they arrive at the airport for flights to the UK from six nations – Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.
British Airways last night was already advising Brits to arrive earlier for their flights home.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling separately said the measures were “necessary, effective and proportionate”.
- Hamad International Airport, Doha, Qatar
- Dubai International Airport, UAE
- Abu Dhabi International Airport, UAE
- Ataturk International Airport, Istanbul, Turkey
- Queen Alia International Airport, Amman, Jordan
- Cairo International Airport, Egypt
- King Abdul Aziz International Airport, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
- King Khalid International Airport, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
- Mohammed V Airport, Casablanca, Morocco
- Kuwait International Airport, Kuwait
He added the Government insisted was not “currently” advising against flying to and from the six countries covered by the ban.
The security tightening comes just weeks after it was revealed UK security services have foiled 13 potential attacks in less than four years.
In 2014, passengers at UK airports were advised to ensure devices were charged so security staff could check them before allowing passengers onto aircraft.
The US ban affects 10 airports in eight countries.
Unnamed US officials said the crackdown followed threats from Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula.
Turkish Airlines was last night said to be challenging the crackdown.
But Emirates issued a light-hearted response on Twitter – using a Jennifer Aniston ad to highlight its own in-flight entertainment system.
Shashank Joshi, senior research fellow at security think-tank the Royal United Services Institute, said the ban could stoke tensions triggered by Donald Trump’s attempted travel ban on Muslim-majority countries.
Mr Joshi: “It is unclear why only some airlines and countries are affected, given that a potential attacker can easily re-route their journey.”
He added: “The ban is also likely to cause further tension between the US and its Muslim-majority allies, compounding the problems caused by the Muslim-focused travel ban.
“Without clarification, this risks being seen as a form of pointless ‘security theatre’ which causes great disruption with little benefit to aviation security.”
The official threat level for international terrorism has stood at severe, meaning an attack is “highly likely”, for more than two years.
US officials on Monday warned there could be a spate of thefts from baggage – given the high value items being checked in.
A complete ban on taking liquids on board aircraft was brought in on August 2006 the day after a terror plot gang planning to blow up transatlantic aircraft was arrested.
The members of the Al-Qaeda inspired group had planned to detonate home-made liquid bombs on flights bound for North American cities.
The ban was later relaxed but travellers a decade on can still only carry liquids or gels in 100ml containers.
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Britain follows US and bans passengers from taking laptops onto UK-bound flights from the Middle East – The Sun