WASHINGTON — In addition to bombing multiple Islamic State financial targets last week, officials announced they destroyed "hundreds of millions of dollars" of cash by investing it in the F-35 program.
The money, according to senior leaders at the Pentagon, was $500 million of the $1 billion originally budgeted to train thousands of fighters in Syria. The program, canceled by President Obama last October due to training only "four or five" fighters at roughly $9 million per fighter, is ironically a welcome reprieve for the beleaguered Joint Strike Fighter.
"We disposed of the money in a safe and completely discreet manner," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters. "We knew if we used it for ammunition and weapons for groups in Syria like we first reported it would just go right back to ISIS. But, we had to get rid of it somehow, and what better place than the financial and political quagmire that is the F-35."
"We certainly weren't going to return it to the Treasury."
When asked how the money was specifically used, Kirby demurred.
"What I can tell you is that representatives from US Congressional districts that manufacture parts for the F-35 were responsible for distributing the funds, so I'm confident we'll never see that money again," he added.
While the Pentagon is celebrating a crippling blow to ISIS, US intelligence agencies offer evidence to the contrary.
One anonymous intelligence official indicates that ISIS is still "riding high" in the short- to medium-term using the weapons and vehicles they captured when they invaded Iraq, along with munitions pilfered from air drops that went awry.
"They are firm believers in the 'fight with the weapons you captured, not the weapons you want' mentality," she said. "But, if it is any consolation, we all know how that ends in the long term."
Confirming the anonymous source's view, ISIS and the al Qaeda affiliated Nusra Front issued a video response to their money being liquidated for the F-35. Their resolve, unsurprisingly, seems unfazed.
"Praise Allah, you have played right into our hands," said Islamic State spokesman Zaid al-Lawzi from behind a lectern in the middle of the desert. "We wracked our brains trying to think of a way to cripple your economy and make your country descend into an orgy of political discontent. Then, Allah answered our prayers with the unholy abomination that is the F-35."
Based on this revelation, the CIA and Pentagon are reportedly working jointly on a covert operation to fund the research to allow Syria's President Bashar al-Assad's regime to develop its own version of the Joint Strike Fighter.