WASHINGTON – Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said he “might” extend the laptop ban to the cabins of all international flights into and out of the United States because terrorists are “obsessed” with bringing down in-flight airplanes.
“There’s a real threat,” Kelly told “Fox News Sunday.” “Numerous threats against aviation, that’s really the thing that they are obsessed with, the terrorists, the idea of knocking down an airplane in flight, particularly if it’s a U.S. carrier, particularly if it’s full of mostly U.S. folks, people. It’s real.”
Kelly already launched a laptop ban on March 21 from international fights coming from 10 countries, largely from the Middle East and North Africa. Asked if he’d extend the ban to all international fights –both outbound and in-bound – Kelly said “I might” as he continues to examine intelligence.
“We are going to raise the bar for, generally speaking, aviation security much higher than it is now,” Kelly said. “There’s new technologies — not too far down the road that we will rely on. But it is a real sophisticated threat and I will reserve that decision until we see where it’s going.”
Additionally, Kelly said he “likely will” extending tougher screening of carry-on luggage to airport security lines nationwide. The TSA is test screening at 10 airports new procedures where airline passengers empty their carry-on-luggage into more bins to further separate electronics.
The reason the tougher screenings are needed is because TSA officials are having trouble seeing through over-stuffed bags. Passengers are “trying to avoid the $25 or $50” luggage fee,” Kelly said.
“The more you stuff in there, the less the TSA professionals that are looking at what’s in those bags through the monitors, they can’t tell what’s in the bags anymore,” Kelly said.
Kelly didn’t give a timeframe for his final determination on stepped-up security measures.