March 22 (UPI) -- Intelligence indicating the Islamic State is building bombs concealed in laptop computers led to this week's ban on in-cabin electronic devices on some plane flights to the United States, two senior counter-terrorism experts said.
The Department of Homeland Safety announced new regulations Tuesday on flights from 10 airports in eight Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East and North Africa. The rule affects about 50 foreign airline flights per day to the United States. The new rules call for any electronic device larger than a cellphone -- including laptop computers, game systems and cameras -- to be stowed as checked baggage instead of available as carry-on luggage. Later in the day, Britain announced similar restrictions on flights arriving there.
Two senior counter-terrorism officials said the Islamic State is working to conceal explosives portable electronics; two other U.S. officials said the IS concentration was on explosives in laptop batteries, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
Although the Trump administration insisted no specific threat was identified, ABC News cited a source familiar with U.S. intelligence, who said threat information is "substantiated" and "credible."
IS is competing for credibility with another terrorist organization, al-Qaida's Yemen affiliate, which has worked to build hard-to-detect explosives in personal electronic devices, one of the senior counter-terrorism officials noted.
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., a member of the House Intelligence Committee and House Homeland Security Committee, told The New York Times that government officials alerted him to the ban, commenting "It was based on intelligence reports that are fairly recent. Intelligence of something possibly planned."
The ban Tuesday came as a surprise to many of the affected countries. Ahmet Arslan, Turkey's transport minister, called the ban harmful to the U.S. airlines industry, adding, "Our problem is not how the practice would take place. The issue is, it can decrease the comfort of the passengers and reduce the numbers of passengers. We are emphasizing that this is not in the benefit of passengers, and we think that they [the United States] should step back from this or ease it."
Osama Sharshar, an Egyptian legislator and journalist who said he frequently travels to the United States, commented that the order was issued by U.S. President Donald Trump to "please the right-wing extremists in America."