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Apple and Samsung phones targeted in new anti-terrorism airport screening

American officials have asked overseas airports with direct flights to the US to change the way they screen electronic devices.

Passengers travelling to the US might want to double check their smartphone battery, as the new regulations may see them asked to turn on their electronic devices. Any equipment that does not power up will not be allowed on board.

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The BBC has been informed that London's Heathrow will be among the airports involved in these new security checks.

Information indicates that the changes are in response to intelligence that Islamic militants in Yemen and Syria are developing bombs that can evade airport security. US officials refused to elaborate on the claim and whether there was any direct link between the threat and the new regulations.

While the US does not directly control security operations abroad, overseas airports are required to meet the standards set by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in order to operate direct flights to the country.

The TSA issued a statement clarifying the enhanced screening process.

"During the security examination, officers may also ask that owners power up some devices, including cell phones," it said.

"Powerless devices will not be permitted on board the aircraft. The traveller may also undergo additional screening."

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France, Germany and the UK have all agreed to the new regulations, while Reuters has reported that mobile phones produced by Apple and Samsung have been singled out for extra checks.

It is not yet clear how strictly the new electronic screening will be enforced or whether it could lead to additional passenger delays.