United States officials have issued a ban on all electronic items "bigger than a smartphone" for travelers taking direct flights from major Middle Eastern and African airports to the U.S., according to CNN. Under the ban, items such as e-readers, laptops and electronic gaming devices cannot enter the cabin and must be stored in the plane's cargo hold.
The outlet reported that the nine airlines implicated in the ban — including Egyptair, Emirates Airline, Qatar Airways, Saudi Arabian Airlines and Turkish Airlines — have been notified of the new policy and have 96 hours to implement the regulation.
A senior U.S. official told CNN if the airports and airlines don't comply, they'll be barred from flying into the country.
As CNN pointed out, the electronics ban may be startling because it represents the broadest security initiative since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. However, another unnamed U.S. official maintained that such a policy has become necessary following new intelligence about international terrorist efforts.
According to the official, there's reason to believe al-Qaida is "close" to being able to embed explosives in electronic devices that could make it past airport security.
More dangerous, though, could be the possibility of transporting electronic devices in planes' cargo hold, as the ban demands of flights. CNN reports that it's been a long-held concern of aviation experts that carrying devices with lithium ion batteries in the belly of a plane could cause a fire ultimately resulting in a crash.
Officials say they have worked with the Federal Aviation Administration to ensure the airports affected by the ban exercise the necessary safety precautions.
News of the electronics ban arrives on the heels of President Donald Trump's revised travel ban, which a Hawaiian judge succeeded in temporarily blocking on Wednesday.
Trump called the ruling an "unprecedented judicial overreach," and has complained before that the country's judiciary branch is preventing him from beefing up national security.
As Trump's ban on travelers from six majority-Muslim countries continues to struggle in court, his administration's new electronics policy could be a way for Trump to get what he wants in the meantime.