US requires stricter inspections for air cargo from 5 Mideast countries

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The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said on Monday that it had ordered stricter inspections for air cargo arriving to the country from five Middle East countries, citing terror concerns.

The TSA said that it had required 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 more 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 an emergency order effective Monday morning.

"These countries were chosen because of a demonstrated intent by terrorist groups to attack aviation from them," according to the TSA. "This is all intel driven."

Per the requirements of the order, airlines are supposed to submit air cargo data at the earliest point practicable before loading the cargo. The shipment information is then compared to information the United States has on terror threats.

The TSA, an agency under the Department of Homeland Security, did not cite any special threat for the decision but pointed out a foiled terror plot in the Sydney airport that had intended to blow up an airliner last summer.

High-grade military explosives were sent by air cargo from Turkey as part of that plot, according to Australian law enforcement.

"The incident in Australia that occurred this past summer was an ominous reminder for TSA and all of our aviation partners, to include cargo carriers, that we need to continue our efforts to keep our skies secure," the TSA said.

Having been aware of the Australian incident, the TSA required in September enhanced screening of cargo from Turkey.