(Adds more details from program, background)
WASHINGTON, Jan 22 (Reuters) - The U.S. Transportation Security Administration said Monday it was requiring six Middle Eastern carriers to participate in an enhanced cargo screening program as part of an effort to raise global aviation security.
The emergency amendment covers carriers in five countries flying out of seven airports and focuses "on last points of departure locations where the threat is greatest," TSA said in a statement.
It comes as the Trump administration has been working for months on efforts to boost international airport security.
The carriers and airports are: Egypt Air operating out of Cairo International Airport, Royal Jordanian operating out of Queen Alia International Airport, Saudia operating out of King Abdul-Aziz International Airport and King Khalid International Airport, Qatar Airways operating out of Doha International Airport and Emirates and Etihad operating out of Dubai International Airport and Abu Dhabi International Airport.
The U.S. government is requiring all cargo originating from those airports to be screened and secured under Air Cargo Advance Screening protocols. The TSA said most of the requirements were already being voluntarily applied by airlines around the world.
Carriers must submit advance air cargo data to U.S. authorities at the earliest point practicable prior to loading of the cargo. The program uses U.S. Department of Homeland Security "threat information and other data to employ a risk-based approach to improve air cargo security through targeted vetting."
In September, TSA required enhanced screening of cargo from Turkey. Officials said the decision to impose the security directives was made after an incident in Australia and came in response to intelligence reports.
In July, an Australian man sent his unsuspecting brother to the Sydney airport to catch an Etihad Airways flight carrying a home-made bomb disguised as a meat mincer built at the direction of a senior Islamic State commander, police said.
High-grade military explosives used to build the bomb were sent by air cargo from Turkey as part of a plot inspired and directed by the militant Islamic State group, police Deputy Commissioner National Security Michael Phelan said in August.
The plot targeted an Etihad Airways flight on July 15, but the bomb never made it past airport security, he said. (Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Andrew Hay)