TSA adds stricter air cargo scrutiny from 5 largely Muslim nations

By Sara Shayanian  |  Jan. 22, 2018 at 12:08 PM
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Jan. 22 (UPI) -- Five predominantly Muslim countries with planes headed to the United States will have to implement stricter air cargo scrutiny over terror concerns, U.S. officials said Monday.

"The continued threat to commercial aviation calls for enhanced screening and security to protect international air travel direct to the United States," TSA Administrator David Pekoske said.

Beginning Monday morning, all cargo loaded onto flights from Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will be subject to the heightened requirements created by the Transportation Security Administration and Customs and Border Protection.

TSA says it chose these countries because they "demonstrated intent by terrorist groups to attack aviation from them."

"TSA looks at threats emanating from each country uniquely, and cannot provide specific information about those threats, but after analyzing evaluated intelligence, we determined that we needed to expand the (air cargo advance screening) program within each of them at this time," TSA's emergency order said.

Although all cargo loaded onto an aircraft undergoes security screenings, the new measure will give the TSA and CBP information in advance on where a parcel was sent from, who sent it, where its going and its contents.

"In close coordination with CBP, I directed specific carriers to implement strict security requirements based upon recent information that established a need to implement additional security measures for air cargo bound to the United States, on both passenger and cargo aircraft," Pekoske said.

Six airlines, including EgyptAir, Royal Jordanian, Qatar, Saudi, Emirates and Etihad, serving the United States from seven airports will be subject to the AirCargo Advanced Screening, or ACAS, protocol.

Airports forced to comply with the new order include Cairo International Airport in Egypt, Queen Alia International Airport in Jordan, King Abdul-Aziz International Airport and King Khalid International Airport in Saudi Arabia, Doha International Airport in Qatar as well as Dubai International Airport and Abu Dhabi International Airport in the U.A.E.

Turkey was the only country required to participate in ACAS before the new requirements were set.

President Donald Trump's administration is considering making all air cargo on its way to the United States bound by these new rules.

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