U.S. Used Missile with Long Blades to Kill Qaeda Leader in Syria (excerpt)
(Source: New York Times; published June 24, updated June 25, 2020)
By Eric Schmitt
WASHINGTON --- American Special Operations forces used a specially designed secret missile to kill the head of a Qaeda affiliate in Syria this month, dealing the terrorist group a serious blow with a weapon that combines medieval brutality with advanced technology.

American and Qaeda officials said on Wednesday that Khaled al-Aruri, the de facto leader of the Qaeda branch, called Hurras al-Din, perished in a drone strike in Idlib in northwest Syria on June 14. He was a Qaeda veteran whose jihadist career dates to the 1990s.

How he died was even more striking.

The modified Hellfire missile carried an inert warhead. Instead of exploding, it hurled about 100 pounds of metal through the top of Mr. al-Aruri’s car. If the high-velocity projectile did not kill him, the missile’s other feature almost certainly did: six long blades tucked inside, which deployed seconds before impact to slice up anything in its path.

The Hellfire variant, known as the R9X, was initially developed nearly a decade ago under pressure from President Barack Obama to reduce civilian casualties and property damage in America’s long-running wars on terrorism in far-flung hot spots such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia and Yemen. (end of excerpt)


Click here for the full story, on the NYT website.

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