U.S. Special Forces used a non-explosive missile with metal blades to kill an al-Qaida-affiliated leader in Syria earlier in June, The New York Times reported.
Al-Qaida officials confirmed Khalid al-Aruri, the leader of Hurras al-Din, had been killed in a Special Forces attack that used a Hellfire RX9 missile to strike a car on June 14, according to The Times.
Khalid became the leader of the al-Qaida-affiliated group in 2019, according to the United Nations Security Council.
Before al-Aruri’s death, the Hellfire R9X missile had been used to kill Jamal al-Badawi in 2019, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Badawi was the alleged mastermind of the USS Cole bomb attack in 2000 that killed 17 American sailors.
The Obama administration began developing the R9X missile — the so-called “ninja bomb” — in 2011 to avoid killing civilians during airstrikes in the Middle East, The Journal reported.
The missile has no exploding warhead, but extends several blades moments before impact in order to shred the intended target, according to The Journal.
American forces have used the modified Hellfire missile to accurately target jihadists, according to Charles Lister, the director of the Middle East Institute’s Syria Program.
“The kinetic, non-explosive missile deploys razor-sharp blades to tear apart the target,” Lister said June 14.
The Trump administration has conducted missile strikes to kill several top terrorists in 2020, including General Qassem Soleimani and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
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