The United States intelligence community is trying to get to the bottom of how the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group has been able to acquire a plethora of Toyota pick-up trucks and SUVs during its holy war in the Middle East.
Toyota officials say that they are unable at this time to determine how ISIS obtained its vehicles, but the Japanese automaker said they would be “supporting” a U.S. Treasury Department investigation into the matter, ABC News reports. Treasury’s Terror Financing unit is now investigating the Islamic State’s truck acquisitions, hoping they can stop the supply chain that supports the Middle East terror organization.
“In line with our usual approach to understanding ISIL’s financial and economic activities, we are working closely with foreign counterparts and stakeholders worldwide,” a U.S. Treasury Department statement read.
“We briefed Treasury on Toyota’s supply chains in the Middle East and the procedures that Toyota has in place to protect supply chain integrity,” commented Ed Lewis, the director of public policy and communications for Toyota’s Washington office.
He added that Toyota has a “strict policy to not sell vehicles to potential purchasers who may use or modify them for paramilitary or terrorist activities,” However, Lewis said it was not possible for Toyota to track stolen vehicles or units that were acquired and resold by intermediaries in the supply chain.
Iraq’s Ambassador to the U.S., Lukman Fally, told ABC News that ISIS has been able to buy “hundreds” of “brand new” Toyota Hilux (overseas version of the Toyota Tacoma) pickup trucks and Toyota Land Cruiser SUVs over the past few years.
Fally asked: “This is a question we’ve been asking our neighbors. How could these brand new trucks… these four wheel drives, hundreds of them — where are they coming from?”
The Toyota trucks have noticeably made appearances in Islamic State propaganda videos, which show its conquests of cities, and the barbaric measures taken to kill its enemies.
“Regrettably, the Toyota Land Cruiser and Hilux have effectively become almost part of the ISIS brand” commented Mark Wallace, the CEO of the Counter Extremism project. “ISIS has used these vehicles in order to engage in military-type activities, terror activities, and the like. But in nearly every ISIS video, they show a fleet — a convoy of Toyota vehicles and that’s very concerning to us,” he added.
Autoweek reports that the Hilux sales reached 649,000 units last year, and Land Cruiser sales reached 368,000 vehicles.