The United States used a special Hellfire missile, dubbed “the flying Ginsu,” in a retaliatory airstrike against the Islamic State militants in Afghanistan over the weekend, following a suicide bomb attack in Kabul that left 13 US soldiers dead.
The missile, which was transported by a Reaper drone, is called an R9X and packs no explosives. It instead ejects six large blades at the target of the strike to help reduce civilian casualties. Its nickname is a nod to the popular knives sold on TV infomercials during the 1980s with the same name. It has also reportedly been referred to as the “ninja bomb.”
It’s use had not previously been disclosed, according to the Wall St Journal, citing two US officials.
In a statement, US Central Command (CENTCOM) said the operation targeted a “planner” of ISIS-K, the group also known as the Islamic State Khorasan, which took credit for the deadly bombing attack.
While the Pentagon has not released the identities of the individuals targeted, the airstrike killed two people with ties to the Islamic State and injured another on Saturday.
The strike site was in the Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan. A neighbor reportedly said three people were killed and four wounded, including a woman, disputing the Pentagon’s report.
Video of the strike site reviewed by the Wall St Journal reportedly showed a small blast hole outside a home next two an auto-rickshaw that appeared to be fire-charred. Windows shown in the footage were blown out and walls were covered in shrapnel.
While the US government never formally acknowledged the existence of the missile following the Wall St Journal’s first reporting on it in 2019, the outlet claims several US officials have described the missile and its use.
Saturday’s airstrike was in retaliation to a suicide bomb attack outside the Kabul airport that killed 13 US soldiers and nearly 200 Afghans last Thursday. The attack came as hundreds of Americans and Afghan allies attempted to evacuate the embattled country following the Taliban’s takeover two weeks ago.
Following Thursday’s attack, President Biden vowed to “not forgive” and “not forget” those responsible for the attack, and said he had ordered US generals to plan retaliatory strikes on the group’s key assets.
“We will hunt you down and make you pay,” Biden said. “I will defend our interests and our people with every measure at my command.”
The US is set to fully withdraw military troops from the embattled nation by Aug. 31, and is attempting to evacuate as many Americans and Afghan allies as possible before then.
US troops have evacuated approximately 116,700 people since Aug. 14, including 1,200 within 24 hours ending Monday morning. Five thousand and five hundred American citizens have been evacuated so far and Biden administration officials believe around 300 remain in the country.