An iPad bomb threat partly led to the recent device ban on flights
There has been quite a bit of confusion over the recent laptop and tablet bans imposed by US and UK authorities on Middle-Eastern and North African flights. When the bans were first announced, there was no mention of specific threats or intelligence that had forced authorities to take action. The trickle of details that was subsequently provided was vague, referring to "reports" or "information" but never stating anything concrete. A recent report by the Guardian finally sheds some light on at least one of the pieces of information directly responsible for the bans.
According to the report, intelligence agencies discovered a plot by Islamic terrorist groups to hide explosives inside fake iPads. These fake versions would be made to look just like the real deal, indistinguishable from actual iPads and thus able to make it past security screenings. Once past the screenings and inside the airplane's passenger cabin, the terrorist carrying the iPad bomb could seat him or herself where they could cause the most damage—usually this is next to a plane window or door, where the explosion could result in a large gash on the airplane's side, causing catastrophic damage and bringing down the plane.
While this new information partly explains the reasoning behind the bans, it has also raised more questions. One of those questions is why the US and UK have banned different countries, airports, and airlines if they supposedly share the same intelligence reports. Another is why other countries who have seen the reports are not banning carry-on devices on their flights. For now, these questions have no official answer.