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US weighing expanding laptop ban to all international flights

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly testifies during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, May 25, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

US Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly says he is mulling expanding a laptop ban to all international flights into and out of the United States amid fears of “a real threat.”

“There's a real threat -- numerous threats against aviation," Kelly told Fox News on Sunday, warning that terrorists were obsessively looking forward to "knocking down an airplane in flight -- particularly a US carrier, if it's full of mostly US folks."

In March, the administration of US President Donald Trump announced restrictions for laptops and electronic devices larger than a cell phone on flights originating from 10 airports in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Jordan, Qatar, Egypt and Kuwait.

The UK was quick to follow suit and announce a series of similar restrictions on a slightly different set of countries.

If implemented, a wide-reaching ban is likely to seriously disrupt flights between Europe and the US, as around 3,250 flights will be conducted between American cities and European Union countries.

Kelly discussed the possible ban with European officials last week, as he accompanied US President Donald Trump on his maiden overseas trip.

The remains of a laptop bomb used in a 2013 terror attack against a hotel in Mogadishu, Somalia.

In an earlier interview on Friday, the DHS chief confirmed to CNN that he was considering implementing the ban on large electronic gadgets on flights departing the US.

"The protocol where we put large electronic devices down inside the cargo compartments, ... I made that decision based on intelligence from a certain part of the world -- sophisticated threats," he said then.

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The new regulation bans passengers from bringing laptops, tablets and cameras larger than cell phones into the cabin.

The DHS has cited attacks on planes and airports over the past two years as the reason for the ban.

In March, the agency warned that terrorists are seeking "innovative methods" to bring down passenger planes using explosive material hidden in laptops, tablets, cameras, DVD players and hand-held gaming devices.

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