PHOTO: US Intelligence sources say terrorist groups have found a way to plant undetectable explosives in laptops. (Photo via Flickr/Andrew_Writer)
US intelligence sources have told CNN that terrorist organizations, including ISIS and Al-Qaeda, have developed new ways to plant undetectable explosives in large electronic devices, hence the ban on such items implemented last month by the US and the United Kingdom.
The report gives some validation to the Trump administration, which has struck out twice on an overall travel ban on immigrants from six primarily Muslim countries but has so far gone unchallenged in its ban on electronic devices larger than a cell phone.
CNN noted that the findings may actually raise questions about whether the ban is even broad enough. The news organization found that tests conducted by the FBI determined the laptop bombs would be far more difficult for airport screeners to detect than previous versions.
Worse, US intelligence officials believe that ISIS and Al-Qaeda have the same kind of security equipment on hand that airports use so they can test laptops that have explosives in them.
"As a matter of policy, we do not publicly discuss specific intelligence information. However, evaluated intelligence indicates that terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation, to include smuggling explosive devices in electronics," the Department of Homeland Security told CNN in a statement.
"The U.S. government continually re-assesses existing intelligence and collects new intelligence. This allows DHS and TSA to constantly evaluate our aviation security processes and policies and make enhancements when they are deemed necessary to keep passengers safe. As always, all air travelers are subject to a robust security system that employs multiple layers of security, both seen and unseen."
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The ban on laptops, tablets, video game players, portable DVD players and more was implemented on March 21 in eight countries in the Middle East and North Africa, affecting 10 airlines that fly to the US. The UK ban was instituted for planes flying from six countries, including two not on the US list.
According to CNN, the intelligence that contributed to the ban on electronic devices was specific, credible and reliable, say three officials who used the same words to describe it. One official called the intelligence "hair-raising."