According to an administration official, the US probably used a missile full of swords called the R9X missle to take out Al Qaeda’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri.
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Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of Al Qaeda, was just assassinated by a surprise drone strike in an affluent Kabul neighbourhood. Information regarding the operation’s execution is finally becoming public. The R9X missile, often known as the “sword bomb” and the “flying ginsu,” appears to have killed the terrorist.
A senior administration official said yesterday that two AGM-114 Hellfire missiles were fired from a drone flying over the Afghan capital in order to complete the successful operation. The R9X variant, a kinetic-driven weapon that discharges six razor-sharp blades into a target on impact, is what reports and photographs coming out of Kabul indicate it was. Think more blender and less fireball. The R9X, also known as the “ninja bomb,” “flying ginsu,” and “sword bomb,” has been in operation since at least 2017, though the Pentagon has not acknowledged using it. The Wall Street Journal reported in 2019 that the missile was used by the United States.
The United States has unspecified “visual confirmation,” according to National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby, that al-Zawahiri is dead. This is significant because he had been declared killed numerous times in the previous ten years. Images purportedly depicting the Kabul residence of the Al Qaeda leader at the time of the strike are also making their way online. The building appears more torn apart than like it has been hit by an explosive round and is smouldering and burning. The balcony was destroyed, but there were no indications of a major fire, which pointed to the R9X. Al-Zawahiri was reportedly on or close to his balcony when the strike happened, despite the fact that the weapon’s blades are capable of slicing through walls.
Since its existence has been made known, the R9X appears to be the weapon of choice for American operations against terrorist targets, particularly those linked to Al Qaeda. Among them have been regional commanders and instructors. The missile became well-liked in operation for two reasons: On the one hand, this is due to the fact that it continues to work when applied, but on the other, it results from a more strategic necessity to minimise civilian casualties. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates that 910 civilian deaths have resulted from the American drone campaign, however investigations over the years have shown that the U.S. has been undercounting the total. The R9X, with its sword-like components, is perceived as being more precise because it doesn’t generate a significant flame explosion. Which further enhances its allure when targeting a sole individual rather than a convoy or moving group.
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Since the Taliban currently rule Kabul after the U.S.-backed government was overthrown last year, the strike’s relative low collateral damage is extremely noteworthy. One of the last notable drone attacks there took place in 2021 and was intended to avenge a bombing that had occurred close to Hamid Karzai International Airport but ended up hitting the wrong target. The attack completely missed the intended terrorist target and instead killed nine people, including several children in addition to the aid worker.
The R9X has reportedly been used in Afghanistan before, although the majority of recorded instances of it have occurred in war zones in Syria, Yemen, and other countries in the Middle East and North Africa. According to The War Zone, a R9X missile most likely carried out a strike in the Kunduz province in 2019.
The Taliban regime, for its part, has not yet made any statements that could indicate what kind of bomb or weapon was used in the attack on Sunday. The Taliban guards in the Sherpur neighbourhood were allegedly attempting to prevent entrance to the block where al-Zawahiri resided, according to The Guardian, which was reporting from Kabul. Locals, however, who spoke to numerous outlets, claimed that while there was no significant fire recorded, the blast was quite widely heard. The attack has been condemned by the Taliban administration as a violation of Afghanistan’s sovereignty, and the Taliban government and the US government are currently at odds over al-Zawahiri.