Zawahiri death: did US use secret ‘flying ginsu’ missile? | Inquirer News

Zawahiri death: did US use secret ‘flying ginsu’ missile?

/ 01:45 PM August 02, 2022
Ayman al-Zawahiri: from Cairo physician to al Qaeda leader

Osama bin Laden sits with his adviser Ayman al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian linked to the al Qaeda network, during an interview with Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir (not pictured) in an image supplied by Dawn newspaper November 10, 2001. Hamid Mir/Editor/Ausaf Newspaper for Daily Dawn/Handout via REUTERS

WASHINGTON — Notorious Al-Qaeda head Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed by two missiles fired at his Kabul home — but pictures showed no sign of an explosion, and US officials say no one else was harmed.

That points to the use again by the United States of the macabre Hellfire R9X, a warhead-less missile believed equipped with six razor-like blades extending from the fuselage that slices through its target but does not explode.

ADVERTISEMENT

Never publicly acknowledged by the Pentagon or CIA — the two US agencies known to undertake targeted assassinations of extremist leaders — the R9X first appeared in March 2017 when Al-Qaeda senior leader Abu al-Khayr al-Masri was killed by a drone strike while traveling in a car in Syria.

Photos of the vehicle showed a large hole through the roof, with the car’s metal, and all of the interior, including its occupants, physically shredded. But the front and rear of the car appeared completely intact.

FEATURED STORIES

Up until then, Hellfire missiles — fired by drones in targeted attacks — were known for powerful explosions and often extensive collateral damage and deaths.

Since 2017, a handful of other finely-targeted attacks show similar results.

Details of the mysterious weapon leaked out, and it was dubbed the “flying ginsu,” after a famous 1980s television commercial for ostensibly Japanese kitchen knives that would cut cleanly through aluminum cans and remain perfectly sharp.

Also called the “ninja bomb,” the missile has become the US munition of choice for killing leaders of extremist groups while avoiding civilian casualties.

That is apparently what happened with Zawahiri.

A US official told reporters that on the morning of July 31, Zawahiri was standing alone on the balcony of his Kabul residence, when a US drone launched the two Hellfires.

Apparent photographs of the building show windows blown out on one floor, but the rest of the building, including windows on other floors, still in place.

ADVERTISEMENT

Members of Zawahiri’s family were present in the home, but “were purposely not targeted and were not harmed,” the official said.

“We have no indications that civilians were harmed in this strike,” the official added.

RELATED STORIES

Ayman al-Zawahiri: from Cairo physician to al Qaeda leader

Al Qaeda leader Zawahiri killed in CIA drone strike in Afghanistan — US officials

Qaeda chief calls for US attacks, economic boycott

Al-Qaeda chief denounces Islamic State ‘liars’

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

Read Next
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: Al qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, missiles, US
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.
Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.



© Copyright 1997-2023 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.