This post is also available in: עברית (Hebrew)
On July 31st, 2022, a CIA drone hit a home in which Ayman al-Zawahiri, leader of al-Qaeda, was residing. The drone strike was precise and caused minimal structural damage with no harm done to human lives. It appears that the missiles used for this strike were modified versions of the Hellfire missiles.
The R9X missile is a version of the Hellfire missile that has an inert warhead and whose main feature is the deployment of metal blades that kill targets with precision and lowers the potential for major collateral damage to surrounding people or structures
A former U.S. official familiar with the technology used in kinetic strikes told ABC News that the photos of the light damage to al-Zawahiri’s safe house indicate that the missiles used in the strike did not carry explosives. If the missiles used in the strike carried any quantity of explosives it would have created damage to an adjacent building or led to a higher chance of civilian casualties, said the official.
According to ABC News, over the last two decades drone strikes have become the main tool used by the US in its counterterrorism missions targeting Islamic extremists. And the laser-targeted Hellfire missiles carried by drones are the weapons used in those strikes.
Al Zawahiri was killed as he stepped onto the home’s balcony early Sunday morning, something he did regularly in a “a pattern of life” of his movements in the home developed by U.S. intelligence, a senior administration official told reporters. That same official said the U.S. studied the house’s construction to “confidently conduct an operation to kill Zawahiri without threatening the structural integrity of the building while minimizing the risk to civilians, including Zawahiri’s family.