WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – For a year, US officials have been saying that eliminating a terrorist threat in Afghanistan without US troops would be difficult, but not impossible. Last weekend it was shown that, yes it is possible, the death of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahari was caused by a CIA drone.
Innocent civilians have been killed in other air strikes in the past. In this case, the US used a Hellfire missile which greatly reduced the chances of further casualties. Although officials have not confirmed what type of Hellfire was used, weapons and counter-terrorism experts say the Hellfire R9X is a covert weapon with various nicknames, including “Dagger Bomb” and “Flying Ginsu”. was used.
According to the American Enterprise Institute’s Clone Kitchen and a former intelligence analyst, the possible use of R9X indicates that the United States wanted to kill al-Zawahari “for collateral deaths and limited possibilities of destruction, and for other political reasons.”
A Look at the Fire of Jahannam and How Al-Zawahari Could Have Been Eliminated:
What happens in a Hellfire missile?
It was originally an anti-tank missile designed in the 1980s, but over the past two decades it has been used to hit targets in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and elsewhere.
High-precision guided missiles can be mounted on helicopters and unmanned drones, and are now widely used around the world. The United States and other countries have sold more than 100,000 Hellfire missiles, according to Ryan Brobst, an analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington think tank.
“It could do enough damage to destroy most vehicles and buildings without major damage or bringing down an entire city block and without significant civilian casualties,” Brobst said.
The US military has frequently used Hellfire missiles to hit high-value targets, including Anwar al-Awlaki, a senior al-Qaeda leader in Syria last year and Anwar al-Awlaki, an al-Qaeda propagandist in Yemen in 2011.
Who killed al-Zawahari?
The United States had several attack options. He could use a conventional Hellfire, a bomb dropped from a manned aircraft, or launch a more risky ground attack. Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden by entering Pakistan by helicopter without moving ahead.
In this case, the CIA chose to use drones. While the CIA generally does not confirm its counter-terrorism operations and limits information about its missions, government officials have said that two Hellfire missiles were fired at the balcony of the building where al-Zawahari lived in Kabul.
According to the United States, images of the building that circulated on the Internet showed damage to the balcony where al-Zawahari was. But the rest of the house is complete and no major damage is visible.
Kitchen said that unlike other models of the Hellfire, the R9X does not contain explosives, but rather a series of rotating wings as the missile approaches its target. “One of its features is that it can penetrate vehicles and other obstacles to reach its target without any weapons,” the expert said.
avoid civilian deaths
US officials and experts said this week that avoiding civilian casualties was a factor in the decision to use the weapon.
Less than a year ago, a US drone attack, using a more conventional Hellfire missile, smashed a white Toyota Corolla in a neighborhood of Kabul, killing 10 civilians in the vicinity of the vehicle, including seven children. Amid the chaotic withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, Americans thought the car contained explosives, posing an imminent threat to US troops. It was “a sad mistake,” the US military later admitted.
A former US official said the possible selection of the R9X is an example of the Biden administration’s efforts to minimize collateral damage and prevent the deaths of innocent people. That missile is a very precise weapon that destroys a very small area, according to an official, who asked not to be identified as he was commenting on counterintelligence issues.
A government official said on Monday that the United States investigated the type of construction of the house where al-Zawahri was conducted to ensure that its structure on the building and civilian casualties, including al-Zawahari’s family members can be attacked without compromising the risk of At least there were Jawaharis, who were in other parts of the house.
“I would say it was a low-risk operation,” said Tom Caraco, a missile specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. The use of Hellfire, he said, “reflects great caution.”
US supplies Ukraine drones capable of firing Hellfire missiles?
No, Washington has provided billions of dollars in military equipment for Ukrainians to resist Russian aggression, but is careful not to provide equipment that could strike inside Russia, escalate conflict or the United States. can be drawn into battle.
Instead, the United States has delivered kamikaze drones such as the Switchblade or Phoenix Ghost, which do not fire missiles, but instead detonate when they hit their target.