“The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” – Mark Twain

The Brookings Institute declared Ayman al-Zawahri dead in November of 2020. So did the US Sun. They reported he died of asthma. Small Wars Journal had him killed off in 2021. Each of these three reports had one thing in common (besides claiming the death of Zawahiri) they all had naysayers, people who did not believe the headlines. People who thought he was still alive. And they were right.

A man points to the Kabul home where al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was supposedly killed. It is less than 1000 feet away from the UK embassy. Image Credit: cnn.com via Twitter

A long time ago, I learned not to believe everything you read. Many years later, in the early days of Operation Iraqi Freedom, I learned not to believe everything you hear from the press.  Let’s just say that the reality of what was happening on the ground and what was being reported home were not always the same. Best to leave it at that.

So, I’m skeptical. Call me nuts, but I like to see proof.

I’m not 100% buying what he’s selling here. In a follow-up statement, Kirby said we have “no DNA confirmation of the death.” Video courtesy of YouTube and Sky News.

Ayman al-Zawahiri was supposedly the acting leader of al-Qaeda, and US intelligence sources said he was living in Kabul, Afghanistan, fewer than 1000 feet away from the UK embassy. According to Reuters, Zawahiri arrived at his Kabul safe house on July 31st and proceeded to an upstairs balcony where he was “struck” on multiple occasions at 0618 local time (0138 Zulu). So what was he struck with? A big stick? A ball bat? No, it was supposedly a variant of an AGM 114 Hellfire missile, the R9X. MQ-9 Reaper drones can deploy these from up to seven miles away.

The R9X variant weighs over 100 pounds and carries an inert warhead, which means no high explosives. These things are also known as “flying ginsus” (remember those late-night commercials?) or “ninja bombs” because they deploy half a dozen razor-sharp knives immediately before impact. A Special Operations Command spokesman was asked directly if the R9X was utilized in the mission to kill Zawahiri. Still, he declined to comment, stating instead that they were part of the inventory available to SOCOM.