The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said that expansion of its in-flight ban on laptops and other large electronic devices was still on the table, contradicting a Politico report stating that the expansion to the European Union (EU) would not occur.
DHS Spokesman David Lapan said that Sec. John Kelly spoke with European Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos and Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc Tuesday to discuss improvements to global aviation security.
The Daily Caller News Foundation reached out to Politico, who initially reported that the U.S. decided not to expand the laptop ban to include the EU. DHS characterized Politico’s report as “absolutely wrong” in an email to TheDCNF.
Politico stood by its reporting, telling TheDCNF that its reporting came from “European sources.” It updated its story after the DHS pres release, reporting that the U.S. told the EU that there is no laptop ban for now.
DHS implemented restrictions on electronic devices larger than a cell phone on board aircraft flying into the United States from 10 airports located in eight majority-Muslim countries in late March. (RELATED: DHS: Airline Electronics Ban Based On New Intel)
Sec. Kelly said that he was considering an expansion of the ban during an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. Kelly told Wallace that terrorists are obsessed with the idea of knocking down an airplane in mid-flight, especially if it’s a U.S. carrier full of Americans.
The decision to implement the policy in March came after new intelligence indicated that terrorist groups have “intensified” attempts to attack flights mid-air. “Our information indicates that terrorist groups’ efforts to execute an attack against the aviation sector are intensifying,” DHS said in a March 21 press release.
While rumors swirled that DHS was considering an expansion of the ban to include flights from the European Union (EU), officials seemed to push back on that notion during talks in mid-May.
During a May 17 meeting between the EU and DHS officials, they reached an agreement to take the ban “off the table for now,” according to the Associated Press. They shared details about aviation security standards and agreed to discuss the topic further.
“The United States and the European Union reaffirmed their commitment to continue working closely together on aviation security generally, including meeting next week in Washington D.C. to further assess shared risks and solutions for protecting airline passengers, whilst ensuring the smooth functioning of global air travel,” members of the organizations said in a joint statement.
The aviation sector is under constant threat from terrorist groups because of the ability to inflict a mass casualty event and the global media attention that follows. Terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation by “smuggling explosive devices in various consumer products,” according to CNN.
Officials cited the 2015 airliner downing in Egypt, the 2016 attempted airliner downing in Somalia, and the 2016 attacks against airports in Brussels and Istanbul as examples of terror-related incidents involving aviation targets.
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