Passengers to the US on flights from Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates have not been able to work on their tablets, laptops or other large pieces of electronics since last week. That’s when the Transportation Security Administration secretly ordered airlines operating in the regions to have ground crews check devices into baggage.
The UK also issued a similar order to airlines coming out of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Turkey.
Ahead of the TSA’s official disclosure tomorrow of the reason for the ban, one source to The Guardian claims that a confluence of issues brought about the ban. One issue was a plot to trigger explosives hidden inside a tablet that closely mimics the iPad in appearance. The scheme has been characterized as more befitting al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s tendency for attacks as a “spectacle,” rather the Islamic State group with its quick, guerrilla-fashioned hits.
Beyond the concerns of what intelligence agencies are looking at, including the different threat levels assessed for different countries, is a phenomenon that popped up when the iPhone 7 was in showcase — dummy units getting out to the public at-large for dissemination and gawking.
Considering the leaky information holes that components manufacturers either don’t bother to patch are just aren’t able to, there’s plenty of room to believe that blueprints, metallic shells or even near-final device prototypes could be circulating in gray or black markets that will have enough tolerance to be modified with explosives and put back together. OS software for an explosive device may not have to be functional — a hardware trigger is all one would need.
Of course, you should take nothing of the above as more than conjecture as there have been no specific details about the pertinent iPad bomb plot that was disclosed to The Guardian. But we figured by this point that we’re dealing with something more sinister than burning Galaxy Note 7 phones.