How the US Killed Ayman Al-Zawahiri, and Only Al-Zawahiri, with the R9X ‘Flying Gins’ Missile

unmanned aerial vehicle

unmanned aerial vehicle Illustration | Getty Images

When President Biden confirmed on monday U.S. drone strikes had Kill al Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahiri At his villa in Kabul, Afghanistan, he said the operation was “carefully planned” longtime terrorist mastermind“There were no family injuries and no civilian casualties,” Biden said.

Drone attacks, usually conducted using laser-guided Hellfire missiles, usually leave craters in the ground, Photo of the house after the strike al-Zawahiri’s stay caused minimal damage. This has led to widespread speculation that the CIA killed Zawahiri with his modified Hellfire called R9X, colloquially known as “ninja bomb”, “knife bomb”, or popular infomercials in tribute to his knife. Some known as “Flying Gins”. It is said to be able to cut through anything. Here’s how the US managed such precision strikes.

What is R9X?

The R9X is a specification for the AGM-114 Hellfire, a type of precision-guided rocket. Originally developed in the 1980s Called the anti-tank “Heliborne, Laser, Fire, Forget Missile” by Lockheed Martin, later shortened to Hellfire. Unlike most Hellfires, the R9X does not have a conventional explosive warhead. instead of, 6 rotating blades The one that cuts through the target.

Democracy Defense Foundation analyst Ryan Brobst said, “It can deal enough damage to destroy most targets such as vehicles and buildings, but enough damage to flat city blocks. and can cause serious civilian casualties.” To tell Associated Press.

R9X responded to then-President Barack Obama’s emphasis on avoiding civilian deaths in drone strikes against terrorist targets in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and other conflict zones. Developed since 2011.It was created “for the express purpose of reducing civilian casualties,” former US official says Said wall street journal In 2019, when newspapers confirmed the existence of R9X and its use in at least two specific attacks, one by the Pentagon and one by the CIA.

However, R9X was used against Al-Zawahiri Deputy Abu Khail Al-Masri of Syria in 2017. Photos of the car hit by the Hellfire variant show a hole where the missile pierced the roof and shredded the occupants, but showed no signs of an explosion.

how does that work?

Former remote drone operator Get live visual confirmation of your target Once given permission to fire, Hellfire follows the guidance of the laser and reaches the person marked for death. Before impact, the drone’s six sharp blades unfold and begin spinning rapidly using the kinetic energy of a five-foot-long rocket.

The R9X was “obviously” developed by “some guys” who “got high like balls, looked at each other, watched a lot of Acme cartoons, and said, ‘Hey, drop the anvil. I was like, what if I could do it? Sky? ’” joked U.S. Army veteran and former USAID employee Dan Smock. Said task and purpose He lived in a house in Kabul where Zarahawi was murdered. “And the guy next to him just finished watching the infomercial for some reason because he said that’s what he was about. He was like, ‘Yeah, but what if it’s Slapchop’s Anvil? “said.

How did the US find Al-Zawahiri and know where he stands alone?

U.S. officials reportedly tracked al-Zawahiri’s wife and children to a villa in Kabul’s posh Sherpur district and learned that al-Zawahiri had moved in as well.・Polymeropoulos told BBC News The US may have used human spies, signals intelligence, and other methods to confirm al-Zawahiri was there.Biden administration officials Said The US was examining the structure of the house to ensure that drone attacks did not threaten the structural integrity of the house or kill people in other parts of the villa.

The official also said US intelligence agencies had investigated “living patterns” in Al-Zawahiri’s home to discover his habits.”Reports say the CIA likes to stand on the balcony.” I had the information and I was like, ‘Of course I will, it’s a nice balcony.'” smock said Guardian.

Zawahiri’s strike “sounds like a model application” for targeted murder, says William Banks of the Institute for Security Policy and Law at Syracuse University. told BBC News“In this case they seem to have been very careful and cautious to find him at a place and time where they could attack him alone and not harm others.”

Is Zawahiri really dead this time?

This is not the first report of Zawahiri’s death, but National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said The US has a “visual confirmation” that he died on strike. The Taliban, which have ruled Afghanistan since the U.S. withdrew last summer and allied governments collapsed, have confirmed and criticized the strikes, and on Thursday the group said al-Zawari’s “arrival and residence in Afghanistan.” I don’t know about,” he claimed. .

Al-Zawahiri in the United States Staying at Sirajuddin Haqqani’s Supreme Advisor’s Housemilitant leader and chief deputy to Taliban supreme leader Mullah Haibatalah Akunzada.

It’s “weird” to think that Al-Zawahiri died so quickly after decades of plotting death and destruction. smock says task and purpose. “I read it this morning when the story came out…and you went from ‘that’s weird’ to ‘that’s really surreal’ to ‘that’s funny as hell’ and then I It’s like transitioning to what you’re currently at: “Where’s the bourbon for breakfast?”

“Finally got the arc in my head” add smock“Let’s review: Twice an Iraqi veteran lived in a house presumably built with opium funds, rented to the Taliban, where the Taliban hid the Al-Qaeda leader as an Airbnb, and where he was a Hellfire veteran.” It’s a strange loop.”

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