United States orders extra air cargo screening for flights from Mideast

US increases cargo screening for 5 Muslim countries

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said on Monday it will require six Middle Eastern carriers to undergo enhanced cargo screening as part of an effort to raise global aviation security.

The new rules apply to seven last point of departure airports, mandating that cargo from those five countries be screened to maintain compliance with the Air Cargo Advance Screening (ACAS) program.

Officials also are looking for anomalies in cargo shipments, such as someone paying $1,000 to ship a $100 item that is readily available in the U.S. That kind of package would likely warrant further inspection. Turkey is the only other country required to participate in this advanced screening program.

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Growing fears about terrorists sneaking a bomb into cargo on a plane bound for the US have prompted the Trump administration to issue a new order requiring closer scrutiny of air cargo from five predominantly Muslim countries. "The signing of an MoU between the two largest aviation groups in the country will have a positive impact on local and worldwide operations by significantly enhancing aviation security measures". The new measures will give TSA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection specific additional information in advance of cargo being loaded onto a U.S. -bound flight. They are not barred from delivering cargo, but are now required to provide "total asset visibility" when doing so.

"TSA looks at threats emanating from each country uniquely, and can not 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", the emergency order stated. EgyptAir, however, previously stopped accepting cargo shipments on flights to the U.S.at the request of American authorities. Intelligence that ISIS had constructed such a device prompted the short lived laptop ban and resulted in a two phased increase of security at foreign airports with direct flights to the U.S.

High-grade military explosives used to build the bomb were sent by air cargo from Turkey. "There's enough out there, enough threat streams, that give us enough concern that we need to move forward with this as quickly as possible", a TSA official told CBS.

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