When Ayman al-Zawahri, the… post Osama bin Laden leader of al Qaeda, was blotted out on the balcony from a pink house in an upscale neighborhood off Kabul in the Afghan capital, neighbors heard a bang but saw no signs of an explosion.
A neighbor who lives nearby told Reuters she heard a loud noise on Sunday, but strangely didn’t see the usual chaos most Kabul residents associate with a bomb or rocket attack including smoke and fire. That has led the ballistic class to assume that the attack was carried out by the infamous “flying Ginsu” – which is named after the iconic super-sharp Japanese blades that were heavily advertised in the 1980s. It’s almost exactly as brutal as it sounds, cutting through walls or the roofs of vehicles to destroy its target.
The weapon – officially called an R9X Hellfire missile – appears straight out of a James Bond brainstorming session. The missile has no warhead or explosives, but instead uses kinetic energy and six devastating blades to take out its target, according to one Bellingcat Weapon Review.
Due to the precision capability of the weapon, there is less chance of collateral damage. And in fact, no civilians were killed in the attack on Zawahri. The telltale sign of its use is that there is no explosion. In the case of Zawahiri, 71, only the windows of the balcony where he stood alone were shattered.
The US does not claim to keep the Hellfire “flying Ginsu” in its arsenal, but several reports in recent years seem to show such irrefutable evidence that they were used in precision killings in Syria, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. According to various news reports, this is the first suspected use in Afghanistan.
The Taliban, perhaps unwilling to protect the Al Qaeda chief, condemned the attack while spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid called it a violation of “international principles” that may be a little rich for the terror group that has cut its fingers and enslaved. and decapitated hundreds of people.
Several sources speaking to the Associated Press and Reuters say the CIA led the intelligence work that led to the attack. The Pakistani government tweeted on Tuesday that the US has not used its intelligence services or territory, nor that the attack violated Pakistani airspace.
Reuters reports that Zawahiri had lived safely in the mountains until he was moved to Kabul when the Taliban took over in the wake of the US rapid withdrawal last year.