The missiles that killed Qaeda boss Ayman al-Zawahiri were likely a secret variant that uses sharp blades, not explosives, to take out targets

An undated photo showing former Qaeda leaders Ayman al-Zawahiri (right) and Osama bin Laden.

The missiles that killed Al Qaeda’s leader were likely a secret variant, per media reports.
Little is known about the Hellfire R9X missile, which is designed to kill without explosives.
The missile uses six blades that emerge from it just seconds before impact.

The two Hellfire missiles that killed the leader of Al Qaeda in a drone strike last weekend were likely a secretive variant that deploys blades instead of explosive warheads to minimize civilian casualties.

The Department of Defense said that Ayman al-Zawahiri, who helped plan the 9/11 attacks, was killed by two Hellfire missiles in a safehouse at 6:18 a.m. on Sunday. Officials described the killing as a “precision, counterterrorism operation.”

The Egypt-born al-Zawahiri was hiding in downtown Kabul with his family, President Joe Biden said in a Monday speech, adding that no civilians or family members had been killed.

A senior administration official said in the Department of Defense’s statement: “We are confident through our intelligence sources and methods — including multiple streams of intelligence — that we killed Zawahiri and no other individuals.”

Online photos of the building in which al-Zawahiri was housed showed its windows smashed but its structure intact — suggesting that no powerful explosion had taken place.

—Charles Lister (@Charles_Lister) August 1, 2022

US authorities have not confirmed what type of Hellfire missiles was deployed in the operation. However, multiple media reports said it’s likely that the Hellfire R9X variant was used because of the minimal collateral damage caused, citing defense experts and social media images of the aftermath. 

According to open-source intelligence organization Bellingcat, the R9X is an air-to-ground missile that destroys its targets using its kinetic energy and six blades, which deploy just seconds before impact.

Much …read more

Source:: Businessinsider

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