U.S. authorities want to know where Islamic State militants got the hundreds of new and used Toyota trucks and SUVs it uses to conduct its combat operations.
The Treasury Department’s Terror Financing unit has launched and investigation into how the terror group obtained such a large number of Toyota vehicles, according to ABC News on Tuesday. Toyota officials are equally at a loss to explain how so many of the company’s vehicles ended up in ISIS’ possession, despite a “strict policy to not sell vehicles to potential purchasers who may use or modify them for paramilitary or terrorist activities.” However, Toyota director of public policy and communications, Ed Lewis, said it is impossible for the company to track vehicles that have been stolen or re-sold by middlemen.
The investigation is part of an ongoing effort by U.S. counter-terrorism authorities to prevent terror organizations from obtaining western-made goods. Unfortunately, there appears to be some problems with the effort. ISIS has not only been able to acquire a generous amount of these vehicles, it has also refitted many of them with various heavy weaponry. The mystery of how ISIS got the vehicles is also a question on the mind of Iraqi Ambassador to the U.S., Lukman Faily.
“This is a question we’ve been asking our neighbors,” Faily said. “How could these brand new trucks… these four wheel drives, hundreds of them — where are they coming from?”
Mark Wallace, a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and current CEO of the Counter Extremism Project, said that it is unfortunate that the Toyota name has become synonymous with a group like the Islamic State, referring to the many ISIS propaganda videos prominently featuring the vehicles. Toyota said that it will continue assisting authorities with finding the source of the seemingly endless supply of trucks.
So far, efforts by authorities have turned up nothing to point them in the direction of who is responsible for the illegal supply chain, and officials admit that tracking the vehicles is problematic. ABC News said that none of the regional Toyota distributors it contacted had any idea where ISIS is getting the trucks. However, Wallace said he believes that Toyota should be able to figure out where the trucks are coming from.
“I don’t think Toyota’s trying to intentionally profit from it, but they are on notice now and they should do more,” Wallace said. “They should be able to figure it out… how are these trucks getting there. I think they should disclose that, put a stop to that, and put policies and procedures in places that are real and effective to make sure that we don’t see videos of ISIS using Toyota trucks in the future.”