Detecting Laptop IEDs

Published on in News

TSA announcement

Late on Monday 20th March 2017, in response to a terrorism threat, US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) sent a confidential email / circular. It was sent to 9 airlines serving 10 foreign airports in 8 Middle Eastern and North African countries. Recipients of the TSA instruction have been given 96 hours to comply: Beginning 0700hrs GMT Tuesday 21st March 2017 – the instruction has no end date!

Passengers traveling by air to the US from named airports in Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar and the UAE on Royal Jordan, Egypt Air, Turkish Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Kuwait Airways, Royal Air Madoc, Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways, will no longer be allowed to carry any electrical devices larger than a cellular / mobile phone into the cabin of an aircraft. Those traveling with such devices will be required to store them as in checked-in hold baggage.

Large electrical items currently being banned from the cabin by the airlines include; laptops, tablets, iPads, Kindles, cameras, DVD players and game players. Cellular / mobile phones and required medical devices are exempt.

Laptop IEDs

The US authorities are believed to be concerned about a possible attempt to down a plane by smuggling explosives on board in the battery compartment of an electronic device. Early indications suggest this threat which forced the TSA of the US to issue the communication is from a laptop IED. Further information from the airline industry corroborates this.

The terrorist group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for two attacks against aviation using laptop devices:

1 . On Tuesday 2nd February 2016 a laptop IED exploded on board a Daallo Airlines aircraft shortly after departure from Mogadishu Airport, Somalia. It is believed the aircraft’s delayed take-off saved the aircraft as it was still in the climb and able to withstand the blast. Had it been at altitude it would undoubtedly and have been catastrophic? Exploding prematurely, it blew a large hole in the side of the aircraft leading to the death of a person suspected to be the bomber. CCTV provided evidence of the laptop being handed over after screening.

An aeroplane with a hole in the side caused by an explosion

2 . On Monday 7th March 2016 another laptop IED exploded prematurely, this time at a security checkpoint in Mogadishu Airport, Somalia, prior to flight. Images have been released of this laptop and Redline has it on good authority the IED contained 250 grams of military grade TNT and a commercial detonator.

A laptop after exploding

Why train to detect an IED which appears to be geographically limited to a handful of countries?

The fact they have used this type of device twice in the past year coupled with the recent TSA instruction indicates it is not isolated and technical details have spread throughout the different terrorist organisations making the threat widespread.

With al Qaeda pushing the lone wolves to operate in Jihad isolation, the copycat threat is as much of a risk anywhere on the globe.

Laptop IEDs on ALERT2

Early on Tuesday 21st March 2017 and within hours of the TSA instruction being released, Redline Assured Security began to build Laptop IEDs following information regarding this most recent threat and others similar to those used in the past.

Late on Tuesday 21st March 2017, Redline will have imaged the devices using an x-ray machine in Cabin bags, Hold luggage and Cargo boxes in lots of different positions and with different levels of clutter. The x-ray images which include all enhancements will be uploaded to Redline’s multilingual ALERT2 x-ray threat image recognition training system in Hold, Cabin and Cargo.

Within 24 hours of the TSA instruction a Laptop IED training program will be ready and Redline Assured Security clients will be training to detect this threat and the copycat threats which may surface as a direct result of the publicity.

If you would like to take advantage of this world leading multilingual threat image recognition training system call UK +44 (0)1302 288360 or email and quote this article.

Call +44 (0)1302 288360 to speak to our team

Endorsed by International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) as an Aviation Security Training Centre (ASTC)

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