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Terrorist Groups testing explosive devices that can be hidden in a Laptop: US Media

U.S. intelligence officials believe that militants with al-Qaida and Islamic State are developing innovative ways to plant explosives in electronic devices

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Signs list prohibited carry-on items at the entrance to a Casablanca-New York flight checkpoint at Casablanca Mohammed V International Airport, in Casablanca, Morocco, March 29, 2017. The U.S. and British governments, citing unspecified threats, are barring passengers on some international flights from mostly Middle Eastern and North African countries from bringing laptops, tablets, electronic games and other devices on board in carry-on bags, VOA

April 1, 2017: U.S. media outlets say terrorist groups have been testing explosive devices that can be hidden in a laptop and that can evade some commonly used airport security screening methods.

CNN and CBS said Friday that U.S. intelligence officials had told them militants with al-Qaida and Islamic State have been developing innovative ways to plant explosives in electronic devices.

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The news organizations said the new intelligence suggested that the terror groups have obtained sophisticated airport security equipment to test how to conceal the explosives in order to board a plane.

They said the intelligence played a significant role in the Trump administration’s recent decision to prohibit travelers flying out of 10 airports in eight countries in the Middle East and Africa from carrying laptops and other electronic equipment onboard in the cabin area.

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Devices banned on certain flights

Earlier this month, the U.S. government banned laptops and other large electronic devices, including iPads and cameras, from the passenger cabin on flights to the United States from 10 airports in Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. Britain also took similar measures.

Passengers on those flights must place electronic devices larger than cellphones in their checked luggage.

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In a statement to media outlets, the Department of Homeland Security said: “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.”

CNN said the intelligence that contributed to the ban on electronic devices was specific, credible and reliable, according to three officials who used the same words to describe it. One official called the intelligence “hair-raising.” (VOA)

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US Will Deploy Necessary Resources to Counter Dangerous Actions by Iran, Says General

Tensions between Tehran and Washington have risen since the Trump administration last year withdrew from an international nuclear deal with Iran and began ratcheting up sanctions

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FILE - Then-Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Dec. 4, 2018. VOA

U.S. Central Command chief Gen. Kenneth McKenzie said Saturday that the United States would deploy the necessary resources to counter any dangerous actions by Iran, Sky News Arabia reported.

“We’re going to continue to reach out to our partners and friends in the region to ensure that we make common cause against the threat of Iran,” McKenzie, on an official visit to the Gulf region, was quoted as saying.

“I believe we’ll have the resources necessary to deter Iran from taking actions that will be dangerous,” he said, according to a transcript released by the Abu Dhabi-based channel. “We will be able to respond effectively.”

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Trump ordered the withdrawal of U.S. troops Syria in December after he said they had defeated Islamic State militants there. VOA

Tensions between Tehran and Washington have risen since the Trump administration last year withdrew from an international nuclear deal with Iran and began ratcheting up sanctions. Earlier this month, the United States blacklisted Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards.

Sanctions for oil purchases

Washington on Monday demanded buyers of Iranian oil stop purchases by May or face sanctions, ending six months of waivers that allowed Iran’s eight biggest buyers, most of them in Asia, to continue importing limited volumes.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and some senior military commanders have threatened to disrupt oil shipments from Gulf countries if Washington tries to strangle Tehran oil exports. McKenzie also said a reduction of U.S. troops in Syria would be done cautiously.

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Tensions between Tehran and Washington have risen since the Trump administration last year withdrew from an international nuclear deal with Iran and began ratcheting up sanctions. VOA

“On the long term, we’re going to reduce our forces in Syria. We recognize that; that’s the guidance in which we are operating. That will be something that we will look at very carefully as we go forward,” the general said.

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President Donald Trump ordered the withdrawal of U.S. troops Syria in December after he said they had defeated Islamic State militants there. In February, a senior administration official said the United States would leave about 400 U.S. troops split between two different regions of Syria.

McKenzie also said he was confident that the U.S. is going to have “a long-term presence in Iraq, focused on the counterterror mission.” (VOA)