A ban on laptops being carried in passenger plane cabins was the result of a secret Israeli operation, according to a report.

Two helicopters flew commandos from Israel’s elite Sayeret Matkal force, its equivalent of the SAS, and a team of Mossad technical operatives into the desert near the Syrian city of Raqqa.

The commandos fanned out while the Mossad team, driving jeeps in the colours of the Assad regime army, placed a listening device in or near a room in which an Islamic State team were talking about bomb-making.

The bug picked up the team discussing a technique, thought to be the work of Ibrahim al-Asiri, al-Qaeda’s master bomb-maker, by which a device big enough to destroy an airliner could be fitted into a…