By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - The U.S. reportedly began to implement tougher cargo screening measures for inbound flights from five Muslim-majority flights Monday amid terrorism concerns.
Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Administrator David Pekoske issued the emergency order for the heightened measures for flight coming from Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, according to CBS News.
A call to a TSA spokesman seeking confirmation went to voicemail that said he would be unable to answer emails or calls during the ongoing federal government "funding hiatus". Emails to the Department of Homeland Security also went un-responded to, likely due to the shutdown.
An anonymous TSA official told CBS News the five countries were selected "because of a demonstrated intent by terrorist groups to attack aviation from them.
"This is all intel driven," the official added.
The new regulations affect six airlines including EgyptAir, Royal Jordanian, Qatar, Saudi, Emirates and Etihad. They are now required to comply with what is known as Air Cargo Advance Screening (ACAS) protocols, a typically voluntary program that requires airliners to disclose information about cargo they plan to bring to the U.S.
Carriers will be required to give background information on the packages they are carrying, such as who sent it, where from and details about its contents.
Seven airports are also affected: Egypt's Cairo International Airport, Jordan's Queen Alia International Airport, Saudi Arabia's King Abdul-Aziz International Airport and King Khalid International Airport, Qatar's Doha International Airport, and the Dubai International Airport and Abu Dhabi International Airport in the United Arab Emirates.
"We haven't necessarily seen anything 'brand new' in terms of a new threat but we are seeing things and want to stay ahead of the threat that we've seen over the past nine months or so. There's enough out there, enough threat streams, that give us enough concern that we need to move forward with this as quickly as possible," a TSA official told CBS.
Turkey is the only other country required to participate in ACAS, CBS reported, noting the Trump administration may widen the regulations to affect all air cargo bound for the U.S.