Britain and U.S. ban most electronic devices in cabins on flights from several Muslim-majority countries

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from The Washington Post,

Britain joined the United States on Tuesday in banning passengers traveling from airports in several Muslim-majority countries from bringing laptops, tablets and other portable electronic devices on board with them when they fly.

The U.K. ban applies to six countries, while the U.S. ban applies to 10 airports in eight Muslim-majority countries.

Fliers can still travel with these items, but they must be packed in their checked baggage on U.S.- and U.K.-bound flights from airports across the countries, including busy transit hubs in Istanbul, Dubai and Doha, Qatar.

The British ban also includes some cellphones and is expected to apply to all airports in the six nations. The countries included in the British ban are Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.

“Direct flights to the U.K. from these destinations can continue to operate to the U.K. subject to these new measures being in place,” a government spokesman said.

It’s unclear when the ban will take effect. “The affected airlines have already been informed, and we expect the measures to be in place in the next couple of days,” the spokesman said.

However, when contacted Tuesday evening, some of the affected British airlines were unable to provide specifics. British Airways referred the question back to the Department for Transport.

Meanwhile, the British Foreign Office updated its risk assessment website to say the measures would take effect “in the coming days but no later than 25 March.”

The decision to announce the ban was made during a meeting on aviation security measures held Tuesday by British Prime Minister Theresa May, who had chaired similar meetings over the last weeks. British authorities also said they had reached out to U.S. officials before the announcement.

A government spokesman added that six British and eight foreign carriers were affected by the ban.

A spokesman for the prime minister’s office said the measures were based on the “same intelligence the U.S. relies on.”

The U.S. restrictions were prompted by a growing concern within the government that terror suspects who have long sought to develop hard-to-detect bombs hidden inside electronic devices are still pursuing that goal and may have put renewed effort into that work, according to people familiar with the matter who were not authorized to discuss it.

Officials have said that in 2014, U.S. authorities were increasingly worried that suspected terror bombmaker Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, who was already instrumental to al-Qaeda’s Yemen branch in several bomb plots, might be helping terrorists in Syria develop new, harder-to-detect improvised explosive devices.

This new prohibition on devices stemmed from concerns that those individuals may have renewed or made progress with those efforts, according to people familiar with the matter.

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