In February 2017, Abu al-Khair al-Masri, number two of the terrorist organization al-Qaeda and son-in-law of Osama Bin Laden, was killed in a drone strike in the Syrian province of Idlib.

He was hit while traveling in a car.

The pictures that emerged after the incident showed a completely different picture than after many previous rocket attacks.

The vehicle was mostly intact, the windshield a little cracked, the wipers still in place.

Only in the roof was a large hole that indicated a direct hit.

Oliver Kuehn

Editor in Politics.

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According to information from the Wall Street Journal, al-Masri, like al-Qaeda boss Aiman ​​al-Zawahiri, was hit by a further development of the "Hellfire" missile called R9X.

This does not have an explosive warhead like the conventional "Hellfire", but carries around 45 kilograms of steel to the target.

It is not killed by an explosion, but by the force of the hit - and by weapons that are more familiar from close combat: The R9X is said to have six blades that are extended on the side of the rocket seconds before impact to prevent the ensure killing.

For the target person, it was like being hit by an anvil falling from the sky, a government official described the effect of the R9X to the Wall Street Journal.

In intelligence and military circles, the missile is referred to as a "ninja bomb" or "flying Ginsu" - a reference to knives advertised on American television in the 1970s and 1980s.

Met on the balcony

According to media reports, the R9X has been used about half a dozen times to date, always to hit "high value" targets.

However, there is no confirmation of this.

While the Pentagon at least confirms its actions but does not provide any information about the weapon used, the CIA does not reveal anything about its missions.

The standard "Hellfire" missile is mostly used when aiming to hit a group of terrorists or a target who is meeting up with other fighters.

The R9X, manufactured by Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, is said to be the preferred solution at the moment when it comes to targeted attacks where collateral damage is to be avoided.

How many R9X the United States has available is not known.

The development began under then-US President Barack Obama, who insisted that there had to be a way to hit specific targets without causing major damage in the immediate area and killing random people.

The further steps on the way to the R9X are not comprehensible, since these were carried out with the greatest possible secrecy.

The existence of the R9X was made public by the Wall Street Journal in 2019. According to information from American media, the attack on al-Masri in February 2017 was the first time it was used.

Bin Laden's successor at the head of al-Qaeda has now been hit on the balcony of a house in Kabul by two "Hellfire" rockets fired by the CIA without anyone else being harmed, the White House said.

That would speak for the use of the R9X, which, according to officials, is so precise that you can hit the passenger of a car without harming the driver.