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Phones, shoes to face scrutiny as US airport security tightens

Published on Jul 4, 2014 2:37 AM
 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Airlines with direct flights to the United States have been told to tighten screening of mobile phones and shoes in response to intelligence reports of increased threats from al-Qaeda affiliated militant groups, U.S. officials said.

The officials singled out smartphones including iPhones made by Apple Inc and Galaxy phones made by Samsung Electronics for extra security checks on U.S.-bound direct flights from Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

U.S. security officials said they fear bombmakers from the Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) have figured out how to turn the phones into explosive devices that can avoid detection at airport security checkpoints. They also are concerned that hard-to-detect bombs could be built into shoes, said the officials, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Airlines or airport operators that fail to strengthen security could face bans on flights entering the United States, the officials said, adding that the U.S. government has consulted with international airlines, foreign governments and airport operators on the issue.

A man uses his mobile phone on a flight out of John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York in 2013. Airlines with direct flights to the United States have been told to tighten screening of mobile phones and shoes in response to intelligence reports of increased threats from al-Qaeda affiliated militant groups. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
 
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