CHICAGO (CBS) — There’s a growing concern from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) about terrorists getting a bomb onto a plane headed for the United States.
As a result, effective Monday morning, all cargo being loaded onto flights at last point of departure airports in five predominately Muslim countries — Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates — will be subject to new requirements, per an emergency order.
O’Hare is the fourth busiest air cargo port in the Americas, handling a record 1.8 million tons last year. Under the new TSA rules, all cargo arriving from these countries must undergo tougher screening before even being placed on a plane.
“If TSA’s doing this, there must be some intelligence that’s influencing that decision,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said, which is also what a TSA source told CBS News.
“These countries were chosen because of a demonstrated intent by terrorist groups to attack aviation from them,” said the TSA official familiar with the order. “This is all intel driven.”
Airlines will be required to detail where a package is coming from, who sent it, how it was sent, where it has been since it was mailed, where it’s going, and its contents. That is a similar level of “total asset visibility” that comes with a package sent through FedEx or UPS.
The goal is to spot shipments that are out of the ordinary, and to also give customs officials time and authority to have an airline do further screening if something appears amiss.
“I would certainly think it can’t hurt, but you mean to tell me you weren’t doing this before?” questioned Rob Mark, senior editor of Flying Magazine.
In any case, Emanuel said O’Hare is ready to cooperate.
“Anything that has to do with precautionary steps as it relates to enhanced security, we’re in favor of, and we’re going to work, obviously, with TSA,” he said.
These are the same countries that were subject to the so-called laptop ban last year, which prohibited electronics larger than a cell phone to be carried on in the passenger cabin.
The Trump administration is considering making all air cargo bound for the U.S. subject to these rules, CBS News reports.