TSA imposing stricter cargo screening for 5 Middle East countries

By RENE MARSH AND VERONICA STRACQUALURSI, CNN
Headline Goes Here Scott Olson/Getty Images

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

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

The agency is requiring six carriers that depart with US-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.

Cargo arriving in the US from Turkey is also subject to heightened screening, the TSA first announced in September.

The TSA has been reviewing its screening protocols for cargo flown into and within the US because of concerns that potential security vulnerabilities could be exploited by terrorists, such as bombs being shipped in cargo on passenger planes.

The tougher screening procedures follow a foiled terror plot in Australia last summer, which revealed a senior ISIS commander had shipped partially assembled components of a bomb on a commercial cargo plane from Turkey to Australia, according to Australian law enforcement.

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