Al Qaeda chief is MINCED by two R9X US Hellfire Ninja missiles in Kabul suburbs

Al Qaeda’s leader Ayman al-Zawahiri became the latest victim of the feared Hellfire Ninja R9X missile that uses pop-out swords rather than an explosive to take down high profile targets, according to military experts. 

Al-Zawahiri was killed in a drone strike in the Shirpur neighborhood of the Afghani capital of Kabul on Saturday, according to President Joe Biden.

The terrorist leader was 71 years old. 

A senior Biden administration official told reporters on August 1 that a drone fired two Hellfire R9X missiles at the terrorist leader as he walked on to the balcony of his safe house.  

The R9X carries 45kg of reinforced metal in its tip with six extendable blades designed to shred the target upon impact without triggering a blast that could prove deadly to those nearby. 

US Central Command hasn’t revealed the weapon used to carry out the assassination of al-Zawahiri, but in the past has deployed the fearsome R9X Hellfire ‘Ninja’ missile for similar surgical strikes

The official described the al-Zawahiri assassination as a ‘precise tailored airstrike.’ 

Osama Bin-Laden’s former number two was staying in the home with members of his family. President Biden said that there other injuries as a result of Saturday’s strike. 

It was the United State’s most significant strike against al Qaeda since the killing of bin Laden in 2011. In fact, the RX9 was considered when plans were being drawn up to permanently take down the 9/11 mastermind. 

The R9X Hellfire missile has become one of the US military’s favored weapons for precision assassinations as it carries a lower risk of collateral damage.

Developed during Obama’s presidency in 2011 amid concerns over the number of civilians being killed in drone strike campaigns in the Middle East, the ‘ninja’ missile is so nicknamed because it foregoes the use of an explosive warhead. 

It the result of a combined effort by the CIA and the Department of Defense. 

The missile is made Lockheed Martin and Northrop Gumman. It is not clear how many R9X missiles that the Pentagon have in their possession.

The R9X is not mentioned in the 2022 budget requests for missile procurement.  

The secretive military Joint Special Operations Command has confirmed the use of the R9X twice, in 2019 and 2020, reports the New York Times. But it has reportedly been used on nearly a dozen other occasions to take out specific targets. 

During the Korean and Vietnam wars in the 1950s, the US military pioneered an idea of non-explosive kinetic bombs named Lazy Dogs. 

The bombs were designed to kill using kinetic energy after being dropped from aircraft. The weighed between 560 and 625 pounds. Lazy Dogs did not prove to be popular among commanders and their development was halted in the 1960s.

Osama bin Laden's second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed in a CIA drone attack in Kabul this weekend

Osama bin Laden’s second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed in a CIA drone attack in Kabul this weekend

Al-Zawahiri was killed in a drone strike in the Shirpur neighborhood of the Afghani capital of Kabul on Saturday, according to President Joe Biden

Al-Zawahiri was killed in a drone strike in the Shirpur neighborhood of the Afghani capital of Kabul on Saturday, according to President Joe Biden

The existence of the R9X was first reported by the Wall Street Journal in 2019. The newspaper said that the missile was used in attacks on persons in Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Yemen and Somalia. 

The Journal said that those worked with the R9X is referred to as the ‘flying Ginsu,’ a reference to a popular brand of steak knives. 

An unnamed official source told the newspaper at the time that the missile was created with the ‘express purpose of reducing civilian casualties.’ 

The article referred to the weapon as being similar to a ‘speedy anvil.’ 

The example that the Journal provides suggests that the R9X was so precise that if a target was in a car with an innocent driver, the missile would take out the target and spare the driver. 

The same report said that the missile’s blades can cut through buildings, and car roofs. 

At the time of the WSJ report, Human Rights Watch’s Letta Tayler wrote on the group’s website that the RX9 should not necessarily be viewed as a more ethical weapon. 

Tayler said: ‘On its own, the R9X won’t resolve the host of legal issues surrounding the US targeted killing program, which since 2002 has killed thousands of people with scant transparency.’ 

The possibly closest look we have of a used R9X in Yemen in June 2022. The red ball is the pneumatic accumulator that helps to propel the missile

The possibly closest look we have of a used R9X in Yemen in June 2022. The red ball is the pneumatic accumulator that helps to propel the missile  

In August 2021, the R9X was thought to have been used to kill two ISIS militants in the Nangarhar province of Afghanistan. According to Task and Purpose, the missiles were fired from a MQ-9 Reaper drone. 

Following that strike, Army Major General William ‘Hank’ Taylor bragged about the lack of civilian casualties adding: ‘Without specifying any future plans, I will say that we will continue to have the ability to defend ourselves and to leverage over-the-horizon capability to conduct counterterrorism operations as needed.’ 

That strike was in response to the Hamid Karzai International Airport attack that killed 13 US servicemembers.  

In addition to the August 2021 attack, the R9X is thought to have been used in the killing of al Qaeda second-in-command Ahmad Hasan Abu Khayr al-Masri in February 2017.

It was used again to take out Taliban leader Mohabullah in Afghanistan in January 2019, that same month the missile was used on USS Cole bombing suspect Jamel Ahmed Mohammed Ali al-Badawi in Yemen and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham leader Abu Ahmed al-Jaziri in June 2019

The following year, the missile was the cause of death of Hurras Al-Din leaders Qassam al-Urduni and Bilal al-Sanaani in Syria.

The latter featured the use of three 100-plus-pound warheads, according to the Military Times. 

Al-Zawahiri joins a list of undesirables that includes, Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin, who was killed in 2004 by the Israeli Air Force, who have been taken out by variations of the traditional Hellfire missile. 

While in use by the US military, conventional Hellfire missiles have taken out Anwar al-Awlaki, an Al Qaeda organizer as well as high-ranking Al Qaeda leader Abu Yahya al-Libi, who was killed in Pakistan in 2012, Al-Shabaab leader Moktar Ali Zubeyr, who met his end in 2014 in Somalia, not to mention Mohammed Emwazi aka Jihadi John who was killed in 2015 in Syria. 

The explosive warhead on a traditional hellfire missile weighs around 20 pounds.  

The motorbike, that was reportedly being ridden by jihadist leader Abu Hamzah al-Yemeni at the time that he was killed by a US drone strike, is shown mangled after being hit by the R9X

The motorbike, that was reportedly being ridden by jihadist leader Abu Hamzah al-Yemeni at the time that he was killed by a US drone strike, is shown mangled after being hit by the R9X

The last high-profile use of the Hellfire Ninja was when Abu Hamzah al-Yemeni – the leader of the Hurras al Din – was compromised in the city of Idlib in Syria in June 2022. 

Images from that scene showed the twisted remains of a motorcycle strewn across the ground, suggesting the missile scored a direct hit on its target. 

Hurras al Din is a relatively small but powerful armed group led by Al Qaeda loyalists, which was led by Yemeni until his death yesterday.

It’s estimated to have 2,000 to 2,500 fighters in rebel-held Syria, according to the United Nations. 

The R9X missile is also suspected of having been used in the air strike which killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in January, catapulting Washington and Tehran to the brink of war, although this was never confirmed. 

In his remarks following al-Zawahiri’s killing, Biden repeatedly invoked the September 11th terrorist attacks and said the killing of al-Zawahiri demonstrated the resolve of the United States to go after terrorist leaders, no matter where they hide and how long it takes.

‘Now, justice has been delivered, and this terrorist leader is no more,’ he said. ‘We made it clear again tonight that no matter how long it takes, no matter where you hide, if you are a threat to our people, the United States will find you and take you out.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk

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