Two al-Qaeda leaders in northwestern Syria were killed on Sunday after their vehicle was struck by a new "ninja bomb" equipped with steel blades that "emerge from the missile moments before impact."
Video footage shows that the vehicle of the terrorist commanders — Jordanian Qassam ul-Urdini and Yemeni Bilal al-Sanaani — remained intact, with only one side severed and the roof smashed in.
Defense analysts believe the weapon used was the R9X, a "secret" missile jointly developed by the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency.
"The Hellfire R9X missile is a modified version of the Hellfire anti-tank missile, the likes of which have been featured on America drones like the Reaper and Predator. The reference to knives is no accident, as it features multiple steel blades that emerge from the missile moments before impact," Behnam Ben Taleblu with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies told Fox News.
Taleblu said the weapon can be used to "limit the damage caused by the missile" due to its "much smaller kill radius."
"Such a feature is increasingly needed for counterterrorism campaigns, where the fighting is closer-in, and the environment around the target is more dense and likely to be filled with non-combatants," he added.
The missile, which went under development as early as 2011, has been used on numerous occasions to eradicate other terrorist leaders in Yemen and Afghanistan.
In January 2019, a Taliban commander in Kunduz, Afghanistan, and Jamal al-Badawi — the alleged mastermind behind the attack on the USS Cole in a Yemeni port 20 years ago — were both reportedly neutralized by the Hellfire R9X.
According to Taleblu, some analysts believe the "ninja bomb" was used earlier this year to take out former Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani.