United States intelligence suggests terrorists have obtained airport security screening equipment to test the effectiveness of their ability to conceal explosives in laptops and other electronic devices, ABC News has confirmed according to two sources familiar with the matter.
CNN first reported that intelligence suggested the screening equipment had fallen into the hands of terrorists.
Last week, ABC News reported that new restrictions for electronics on certain U.S. bound flights were based on new intelligence that radicals associated with ISIS are actively working on developing ways to smuggle bombs onto commercial airliners.
ABC News first reported that ISIS had developed creative new bombs built into electronic devices which could be smuggled aboard commercial airliners. Last week, law enforcement and intelligence officials tested the bombs, found them to be viable and then sent teams to the airports to see if they could be smuggled through. The threat led to the electronics restrictions.
The use of screening equipment is the latest evolution of a threat in which Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula shared its bomb-making expertise with Khorasan Group, an organization of terrorists in Syria, and other al-Qaeda associates in both Syria and Iraq; and now with ISIS.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security declined to comment on the story, but provided a statement:
"As a matter of policy, we do not publicly discuss specific intelligence information. However, evaluated intelligence indicates that terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation, to include smuggling explosive devices in electronics," wrote DHS.
"The U.S. government continually re-assesses existing intelligence and collects new intelligence. This allows DHS and TSA to constantly evaluate our aviation security processes and policies and make enhancements to keep passengers safe. To that end, we use a robust security system that employs multiple layers of security, both seen and unseen."
Over a week ago, DHS banned all electronics bigger than a cellphone from the cabins of nine airlines' direct flights to the U.S. from 10 airports in eight Muslim-majority countries citing threat intelligence gathered by authorities and intelligence analysis paired with other government information.