In 2017, the US dropped the “Mother of all Bombs” or MOAB on ISIS caves in Afghanistan. Then we witnessed Israel’s state-of-the-art anti-missile defence system the “Iron Dome” in action this year. Now, the US has reportedly used a specialized missile “full of swords” in the recent drone strike targetting ISIS-K terrorists in Kabul.
The Taliban overthrew the Afghan government in late July, causing worldwide concern, and by the middle of August, they had complete control of the country. In retribution for the group’s violent bombing of Kabul’s airport during ongoing evacuation attempts, the US reportedly used a customized missile, generally exemplified as a “meteor full of swords”, to take out a senior planner belonging to the terrorist outfit ISIS-K.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the intention of using such a missile is to minimize the chances of civilian casualties that typically surround regular explosive weapons. With a circle of blades that release minutes before impact, the R9X variant of the AGM-114 Hellfire missile annihilates a target.
Two militants linked to ISIS’s Afghanistan branch were reportedly slain in Nangarhar. The specialized missile has been termed a “ninja bomb” and was built jointly by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the US Department of Defence.
The strike is the first known use of the R9X by the United States since August 2020, when a US-led group used the Hellfire variant to dismiss Abu Yahya al-Uzbeki, an independent “military trainer” aligned with the al-Qaeda-linked Hurras Al-Din organisation, as he travelled through Syria’s Idlib region.
The latest R9X operation was carried out in response for a suicide explosion at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport that killed 13 US military veterans last week. The attack came amid international attempts to evacuate setups from Kabul and help Afghans fleeing the Taliban’s growing hold on the country.
As per a military news website, the R9X was used by the US to kill Hurras Al-Din leaders Qassam al-Urduni and Bilal al-Sanaani in northwest Syria in June 2020, al Qaeda alternative form Hayat Tahrir al-Sham ruler Abu Ahmed al-Jaziri in June 2019, a Taliban commander only known as “Mohabullah” in Afghanistan in January 2019 and, Befo and al Qaeda’s second-in-command, Ahmad Hasan Abu Khayr al-Masri’s execution, in February 2017.