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Five Muslim-majority countries face new, stricter rules from TSA

Five Muslim-majority countries are subject to new rules on airplane cargo by U.S. transport officials worried about terrorism, according to a report.

The Transportation Security Administration is including Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in a program that requires them to give more information on objects being sent into the U.S., CBS reported Monday.

“In close coordination with CBP, I directed specific carriers to implement strict security requirements based upon recent information that established a need to implement additional security measures for air cargo bound to the United States, on both passenger and cargo aircraft,” TSA head David Pekokse said in a statement.

“These countries were chosen because of a demonstrated intent by terrorist groups to attack aviation from them,” an unidentified official told CBS.

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The TSA did not immediately respond to a request for comment about why the five new countries were chosen.

Some of the restricted countries were also subject to a ban on laptops coming into the U.S. this summer, before they complied with more stringent security standards set out by the Department of Homeland Security.

None of the countries were included in President Trump’s travel ban, which in its different forms has targeted Libya, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen before removing Iraq and Sudan but adding Chad, North Korea and Venezuela in its latest version.

The Air Cargo Advance Screening program began as a pilot during the Obama administration, and has been voluntary except for requirements placed on Turkey last September.

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Airlines in the affected countries including major carriers such as Emirates in the UAE can be required to give information about packages, including who sent it, what it contains and where it is going.

All cargo already goes through security screening, though the additional information comes as U.S. authorities worry about bombs potentially being put on planes.

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