U.S. officials have asked Toyota to help them determine how ISIS has acquired the large number of Toyota pickup trucks seen prominently in the terror group’s propaganda videos, ABC News reported.
In response, Toyota said it does not know how ISIS obtained the vehicles and is “supporting” the inquiry led by the Terror Financing unit of the Treasury Department, the article stated.
The Iraqi Ambassador to the United States, Lukman Faily, told ABC News that, in addition to repurposing older trucks, his government believes ISIS has acquired “hundreds” of “brand new” Toyotas in recent years.
“This is a question we’ve been asking our neighbors,” Faily told ABC News. “How could these brand new trucks — these four-wheel drives, hundreds of them — where are they coming from?”
“Regrettably, the Toyota Land Cruiser and Hilux have effectively become almost part of the ISIS brand. … In nearly every ISIS video, they show a fleet — a convoy of Toyota vehicles, and that’s very concerning to us,” Mark Wallace, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and current CEO of the Counter Extremism Project, told ABC News.
“I don’t think Toyota’s trying to intentionally profit from it, but they are on notice now, and they should do more,” Wallace was quoted in the report. “They should be able to figure it out — how are these trucks getting there?"
Tracking the path of the trucks into ISIS hands has proven complicated, ABC reported, adding that Toyota’s own figures show sales of Hilux and Land Cruisers tripling from 6,000 sold in Iraq in 2011 to 18,000 sold in 2013 before sales dropped back to 13,000 in 2014.
Brigadier General Saad Maan, an Iraqi military spokesman, told ABC News he suspects that middlemen from outside Iraq have been smuggling the trucks into the region.