NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/CBS News/AP) — Terrorist groups have been perfecting and testing a bomb that can be hidden in a laptop computer and evade security scanners, U.S. intelligence officials told CBS News.
The officials said Al-Qaeda and ISIS have been developing the device, and the concern about explosives hidden in laptops or other large personal electronic devices prompted the U.S. and UK governments from banning such devices on flights from designated countries.
Larger electronics are now banned in carry-on luggage on nonstop flights to the U.S. from 10 airports based in Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Quatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.
The policy includes any electronics larger than a smartphone, including laptops, iPads, cameras and other electronics. Those devices will now have to be checked. Medical devices are exempt.
New intelligence suggests that the terror groups are testing the new bomb on airport scanners they have obtained, officials told CBS News.
The airport scanning technology now used to inspect carry-on bags in the U.S. is nearly 10 years old, and it is based on an X-ray machine, CBS News noted.
“Terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation and are aggressive in pursuing innovative methods to undertake their attacks to include smuggling explosive devices in consumer objects,” said White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
International salesman Glen Anderson is a frequent flyer at Newark Liberty International Airport, and he told CBS2’s Brian Conybeare he was plenty alarmed by the revelations.
“Scares the living daylights out of me, to be honest with you,” Anderson said.
He does not like hearing about the terror threats that could prevent him from taking most electronic devices on board planes.
“I use it on every flight,” he said. “I work on planes because when I get home, I want to not work.”
CBS News Transportation Correspondent Kris Van Cleave reported that last year, a laptop bomb blew a hole in the side of a Somali airliner. The plane was able to land safely.
Al al-Qaeda offshoot claimed responsibility for the incident in Somalia.
“We had the shoe bomber, the underwear bomber, the printer cartridge attempt — now this is the next level,” said retired FBI agent Manny Gomez.
Gomez said what really troubles him is that terrorists apparently have the same scanning devices at their own disposal that U.S. airports have had in place since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
“That’s the technology that they’re testing their explosives on. We need to be more proactive — be several steps ahead of them and go to the next level of technology.” Gomez said.
The carriers impacted by electronics the ban are Royal Jordanian, Egypt Air, Turkish Airline, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Kuwait Airways, royal Air Marac, Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways, CBS News reported.
The affected airports are in Cairo; Amman, Jordan; Kuwait City; Casablanca, Morocco; Doha, Qatar; Riyadah and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia; Istanbul; and Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
Right now, the laptop ban does not affect any domestic flights or international flights originating in the U.S. But experts said that could change in the future.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)