A U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drone sits armed with Hellfire missiles and a 500-pound bomb in a hanger at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. (photo credit: REUTERS)
By Anna Ahronheim – JP
Israel may take a look at the new top-secret American “Ninja Bomb,” designed to minimize bystander casualties and to take out a single terrorist target by replacing an explosive warhead with knife-like blades.
In the last round of violence between Israel and terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip, the IDF resumed its policy of targeted killings, striking a vehicle carrying 39-year-old Hamed Ahmed Abed Khudari, who the IDF said was in charge of large-scale money transfers from Iran to terrorist groups in the Strip.
While the strike didn’t kill any civilian bystanders, military officials were concerned that his killing in broad daylight in the middle of Gaza City could escalate the violence even further, even perhaps dragging the two sides into a war.
First reported by The Wall Street Journal, the American AGM-114R9X missile (dubbed the “Flying Ginsu” or “Ninja Bomb”) is a variant of the Hellfire air-to-ground missile. Unlike the traditional Hellfire, which creates a deadly blast radius when it explodes, the Ninja Bomb doesn’t have an explosive payload. Instead, it deploys six blades moments before striking the target, virtually shredding through anything in its path.
“To the targeted person, it is as if a speeding anvil fell from the sky,” read a report in the Journal.
First reported by the newspaper, the missile – which was developed under the Obama administration – has already been used by both the CIA and the Pentagon “about half a dozen times” in countries like Libya, Syria, Iraq, Somalia and Yemen since 2011.
The CIA has not responded to a request by The Jerusalem Post for comment on the report.
According to the report, the CIA used one to take out Ahmad Hasan Abu Khayr al-Masri, an al-Qaeda second-in-command, in Syria in February 2017. Pictures from the scene of the attack shared on social media sites showed a hole torn through the roof of his car, but no signs of an explosion and no damage caused to surroundings.
The US Defense Department was also said to have used one this January to kill alleged USS Cole bombing mastermind Jamal al-Badawi. It was also considered as a “Plan B” to kill Osama Bin Laden in his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
According to the report, which is based on interviews with more than a dozen current and former government officials, the missile was designed to reduce the number of civilian casualties by drone strikes. While such strikes were expanded dramatically under the administration of former president Barack Obama, he also sought to institute a number of measures to minimize civilian casualties.
According to data from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which has been cataloging the effects of US drone strikes abroad since 2004, such strikes have killed between 769 and 1,725 civilians in the last 15 years, with some 250-400 of them being children.
In March, US President Donald Trump ended a mechanism that had been in place from the Obama administration requiring US intelligence officials to publicly report the number of people killed in drone strikes on targets outside war zones.
With Israel resuming its policy of targeted killings against senior Hamas operatives in the densely populated coastal enclave, a missile designed without an explosive warhead may be an interesting option for the air force, which aims to minimize civilian casualties.