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HomeWorldHow US hellfire missiles killed Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri

How US hellfire missiles killed Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri

Leader of Al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed by two Hellfire missiles at 6:18am on Sunday when he was on a balcony of a safe house in Kabul.

He was killed instantly by the missiles that were fired by a drone.

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A senior administration official’s description of the nature of the hit suggests that the United States may have deployed the R9X Hellfire variant, commonly known as the “Ninja” or “Flying Ginsu” missile, nicknamed for knives famously sold on TV in the 1980s. This variant has been used in the recent past to kill other extremist leaders.

A report by CBS News citing a defense intelligence provider said that R9X Hellfire uses six blades that rotate quickly and deploy before impact in place of conventional warhead explosives. Instead of blowing up its target, the missile slices and pierces it. The design reduces the possibility of extra victims while making it simpler to eliminate the intended target.

The White House, as of yet, has not shared any details about the type of Hellfire missiles used.

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The senior administration official who briefed reporters said the strike only killed al-Zawahiri, avoiding civilian casualties and that the strike did not completely destroy the safe house where al-Zawahiri was hiding with his family.

He further said that it is unclear whether the missiles did any structural damage beyond the patio. Two intelligence sources familiar with the matter said the CIA carried out the strike.

According to a US Army equipment manual, the R9X model was first covertly used in 2017 to assassinate the leader of Al-Qaeda Abu Khayr al-Masri.



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