The Guardian reports a plot to use a fake iPad as a bomb is partially to blame for the U.S. and U.K. banning laptops and tablets from hand baggage on some flights.
The UK ban on tablets, laptops, games consoles and other devices larger than a mobile phone came into effect on Saturday. It applies to inbound flights from six countries – Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Turkey. Six UK airlines – British Airways, EasyJet, Jet2, Monarch, Thomas Cook and Thomson – and eight foreign carriers are affected.
It follows a similar move in the US, which applies to flights from 10 airports in eight countries – Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.
Terrorists Seeking ‘Innovative Methods’ to Attack Planes
The US Department of Homeland Security had previously stated the ban was the result of terrorists seeking “innovative methods” to attack planes.
Discovery of the plot confirmed the fears of the intelligence agencies that Islamist groups had found a novel way to smuggle explosives into the cabin area in carry-on luggage after failed attempts with shoe bombs and explosives hidden in underwear. An explosion in a cabin (where a terrorist can position the explosive against a door or window) can have much more impact than one in the hold (where the terrorist has no control over the position of the explosive, which could be in the middle of luggage, away from the skin of the aircraft), given passengers and crew could be sucked out of any subsequent hole.
Shashank Joshi, a defense and intelligence specialist at RUSI, told the Guradian: “I understand why a tablet-sized, non-metallic bomb might pose a serious threat, given AQAP’s long-established expertise in this area. What confuses me is the scope of the ban.
“One problem is that the British and American restrictions differ, despite the exceptionally high level of intelligence-sharing between the two on AQAP and on counter-terrorism generally. Other western and western-allied countries have not undertaken the ban at all. This raises questions about why they have arrived at different conclusions, and specifically suspicions as to whether unstated political factors may be influencing the Trump administration.”