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TSA imposing stricter screening for Middle East countries, U.S.

Staff Writer |
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA), citing terror concerns, is implementing a stricter screening program for air cargo arriving to the United States from five countries in the Middle East.

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The agency is requiring six carriers that depart with U.S-bound air cargo from seven airports in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to be subject to further scrutiny.

"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 in the emergency order.

The five countries were chosen because of a "demonstrated intent by terrorist groups to attack aviation from them," according to TSA.

"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," the emergency order stated.

To ensure the security of airline passengers and the nation's airports, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has begun implementing new, stronger screening procedures for carry-on items at airports across the country.

The new procedures, which have been rolling out across the country, and which will begin next week at Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport (XNA) require travelers to place all electronics larger than a cell phone in bins for X-ray screening in standard checkpoint lanes.

TSA officers will be asking travelers to remove electronics larger than a cell phone from their carry-on bags and place them in a bin with nothing on top or below, similar to how laptops have been screened for years. This simple step helps TSA officers to obtain a clearer X-ray image.

Passengers will experience a bag check if they fail to follow this procedure, which will slow screening for them and everyone else in line.

Passengers in the TSA Pre program generally will be exempt from this procedure during hours when the program is running. But any passenger's electronics or other belongings may be subject to additional screening at any time.

TSA officers will guide passengers through the screening process and recommend how best to arrange their carry-on items for X-ray screening.

Travelers are encouraged to organize their bags to ease the screening process and keep the lines moving. There are no changes to what travelers can bring through the checkpoint; food and liquid items that comply with the 3-1-1 liquids rule, electronics, and books continue to be allowed in carry-on bags.

As always, TSA suggests passengers arrive to the airport an hour and a half prior to their scheduled departure time to allow adequate time to navigate the ticketing, baggage and security screening processes.

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