A top al-Qaeda terrorist was killed on Sunday in Syria in an airstrike that reportedly used a secretive U.S. missile that does not feature an explosive warhead, but instead uses knives to shred the target.
“Khalid al-Aruri, a Jordanian also known by his nom de guerre Abu al-Qassam al-Urduni, was struck in his car, almost certainly by a new breed of lethal, highly accurate missile,” The Sunday Times reported. “The Hellfire R9X has been nicknamed the ‘flying ninja’ or ‘flying ginsu’ for its fast-swivelling, detachable blades.”
Al-Aruri reportedly led an al-Qaeda faction in Syria where he was the “personal representative” of Ayman al-Zawahiri and was tasked with planning future Islamic terrorist attacks on the West.
The Sunday Times added that al-Aruri was killed along with another top Islamic terrorist leader, Bilal al-Sanaani. The U.S. Military said that the strike was not the result of an operation by Operation Inherent Resolve.
The Wall Street Journal reported in 2019 on the Hellfire R9X missile that was developed by the U.S. military to avoid civilian casualties in populated areas.
The Wall Street Journal reported:
Both the Central Intelligence Agency and the Pentagon have used the weapon while closely guarding its existence. A modified version of the well-known Hellfire missile, the weapon carries an inert warhead. Instead of exploding, it is designed to plunge more than 100 pounds of metal through the tops of cars and buildings to kill its target without harming individuals and property close by.
To the targeted person, it is as if a speeding anvil fell from the sky, the officials said. But this variant of the Hellfire missile, designated as the R9X, also comes equipped with a different kind of payload: a halo of six long blades that are stowed inside and then deploy through the skin of the missile seconds before impact to ensure that it shreds anything in its tracks.
Numerous videos and images of the vehicle that was struck that reportedly was carrying al-Aruri surfaced online. The images show that the weapon struck the top of the vehicle, completely gutting the inside of the vehicle.
[Warning: Graphic content]
A US strike kills a notable al-Qaeda leader in Syria. A video of the car he was in. pic.twitter.com/5qtVukN5O1 modern weapons!
— Hassan Hassan (@hxhassan) June 14, 2020
#Syrie les deux passagers tués étaient Qassam al-Urduni [le #Jordanie-n] & Bilal al-Sanaani [#Sanaa #Yémen], le 1er était commandant militaire de Huras Eddine #AlQaeda // on remarque une lame au sol pic.twitter.com/8xye99KhX4
— Wassim Nasr (@SimNasr) June 14, 2020
The Wall Street Journal was able to confirm that the weapon had been used at least twice before, including once by the CIA and once by the Department of Defense:
In January 2019, Jamal al-Badawi, accused of being behind the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000 in a Yemeni port, killing 17 American sailors, was killed by an R9X fired by the Pentagon. The Pentagon has acknowledged the strike, which occurred in Yemen, though not the specific munition involved.
In February 2017, Ahmad Hasan Abu Khayr al-Masri, an Egyptian national who served as al Qaeda’s No. 2, was killed in Syria’s Idlib Province by an R9X fired by a U.S. aircraft operated by the CIA. The CIA doesn’t acknowledge airstrikes it carries out.
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