As Battle for Mosul Begins, Ambassador Want to Know How ISIS Got So Many Toyotas

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
as battle for mosul begins ambassador want to know how isis got so many toyotas

The long-awaited battle to retake the northern Iraq city of Mosul — an ISIS stronghold for the past two years — began this morning, with Allied forces supporting the Iraqi Army troops and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in their quest against the Islamic State.

One player has a heavy presence on both sides of the battle, and it isn’t a person or organization. It’s the Toyota Hilux, the go-to vehicle for terrorists and allies in the war-torn region. So numerous is the do-anything pickup, that the Iraqi ambassador to the U.S. questions how so many Toyotas could find their way into ISIS hands.

View any image taken from the region, and you’ll almost certainly spot a tan or beige Toyota Hilux blending nicely into the arid landscape. Similar to the Tacoma, the Hilux is the conflict’s Jack-of-all-trades. Scout vehicle, suicide bomb carrier, mobile heavy machine gun platform or rocket battery carrier, the Hilux does it all on both sides.

In one summer airstrike, the U.S. Air Force obliterated a convoy of 120 Hilux pickups in a well-planned turkey shoot.

“Running around like rats surprising us with suicide attacks and snipers”: On the frontline of the battle for Mosul

— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) October 17, 2016

Recently, Iraqi ambassador to the U.S. Lukman Faily told ABC News he was concerned by the hundreds of new Hilux pickups ISIS has acquired in recent years. Older trucks have already been repurposed to suit the group’s needs.

“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?”

The ambassador’s concerns are echoed by U.S. officials and anti-terror watchdogs. Former UN ambassador Mark Wallace, now head of the non-profit Counter Extremism Project, told ABC that “the Toyota Land Cruiser and Hilux have effectively become almost part of the ISIS brand.”

“ISIS has used these vehicles in order to engage in military-type activities, terror activities, and the like,” Wallace said. “But in nearly every ISIS video, they show a fleet — a convoy of Toyota vehicles and that’s very concerning to us.”

A Toyota executive questioned by the news channel said the automaker has measures in place to prevent its models from being used as unauthorized military vehicles. It would terminate “immediately” any known agreement between a dealer and the terrorist group, the executive said. Still, there’s a way around every problem. What’s stopping ISIS from taking control of vehicles on dealer lots in overrun cities, and who is going to say no to ISIS if they ask for your keys?

The real problem seems to be the age-old practice of black market smuggling. Iraqi military spokesman Brigadier General Saad Maan claims “middlemen” from outside Iraq are organizing the shipments of vehicles into the country.

[Image: Toyota UK]

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7 of 62 comments
  • Heavy handle Heavy handle on Oct 18, 2016

    Manufacturers can't even keep US-sold luxury cars from ending-up in China, and yet the naive here believe that, somehow, every Toyota customer on every continent (other than Antarctica) can be fully vetted? Dream on. There's nothing magical about the Hilux, other than it's a quality truck that's available worldwide (except in the US and Canada). They would use Isuzu or Mitsubishi if that's what was available. Some will remember that the Libyan revolution "featured" Chinese pickups, because that's what they had in Libya at the time. I'm sure they eventually ran into the same problem that owners of Chinese dirt bikes encounter here: shoddy construction and no parts.

    • RobertRyan RobertRyan on Oct 18, 2016

      @heavy handle Which are in turn copies of the Hilux or Nissan Navara

  • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Oct 18, 2016

    Same place they got all of those HMMWV's from at the start of the war I am guessing...The US Taxpayer via the Iraqi Army running away from them at the onset of the conflict. Surely this is the case for a chunk of them anyway.

    • See 3 previous
    • Old Man Pants Old Man Pants on Oct 19, 2016

      @Lou_BC I'd sell the weapons and most of the Toughbooks but keep all the MREs!

  • Dukeisduke Yikes - reading the recall info from NHTSA, this sounds like the Hyundai/Kia 2.4l Theta II "engine fire" recall, since it involves an engine block or oil pan "breach", so basically, throwing a rod:"Description of the Safety Risk : Engine oil and/or fuel vapor that accumulates near a sufficiently hot surface, below the combustion initiation flame speed, may ignite resulting in an under hood fire, and increasing the risk of injury. Description of the Cause :Isolated engine manufacturing issues have resulted in 2.5L HEV/PHEV engine failures involving engine block or oil pan breach. In the event of an engine block or oil pan breach, the HEV/PHEV system continues to propel the vehicle allowing the customer to continue to drive the vehicle. As the customer continues to drive after a block breach, oil and/or fuel vapor continues to be expelled and accumulates near ignition sources, primarily expected to be the exhaust system. Identification of Any Warning that can Occur :Engine failure is expected to produce loud noises (example: metal-to-metal clank) audible to the vehicle’s occupants. An engine failure will also result in a reduction in engine torque. In Owner Letters mailed to customers, Ford will advise customers to safely park and shut off the engine as promptly as possible upon hearing unexpected engine noises, after experiencing an unexpected torque reduction, or if smoke is observed emanating from the engine compartment."
  • Dukeisduke In an ideal world, cars would be inspected in the way the MoT in the UK does it, or the TÜV in Germany. But realistically, a lot of people can't afford to keep their cars to such a high standard since they need them for work, and widespread public transit isn't a thing here.I would like the inspections to stick around (I've lived in Texas all my life, and annual inspections have always been a thing), but there's so much cheating going on (and more and more people don't bother to get their cars inspected or registration renewed), so without rigorous enforcement (which is basically a cop noticing your windshield sticker is out of date, or pulling you over for an equipment violation), there's no real point anymore.
  • Zipper69 Arriving in Florida from Europe and finding ZERO inspection procedures I envisioned roads crawling with wrecks held together with baling wire, duct tape and prayer.Such proved NOT to be the case, plenty of 20-30 year old cars and trucks around but clearly "unsafe at any speed" vehicles are few and far between.Could this be because the median age here is 95, so a lot of low mileage vehicles keep entering the market as the owners expire?
  • Zipper69 At the heart of GM’s resistance to improving the safety of its fuel systems was a cost benefit analysis done by Edward Ivey which concluded that it was not cost effective for GM to spend more than $2.20 per vehicle to prevent a fire death. When deposed about his cost benefit analysis, Mr. Ivey was asked whether he could identify a more hazardous location for the fuel tank on a GM pickup than outside the frame. Mr. Ivey responded, “Well yes…You could put in on the front bumper.”
  • 28-Cars-Later I'll offer this, offer a registration for limited use and exempt it from all inspection. The Commonwealth of GFY for the most part is Dante's Inferno for the auto enthusiast however they oddly will allow an antique registration with limited use and complete exemption from their administrative stupidity but it must be 25 years old (which ironically are the cars which probably should be inspected). Given the dystopia being built around us, it should be fairly simply to set a mileage limitation and enforce a mileage check then bin the rest of it if one agrees to the terms of the registration. For the most part odometer data started being stored in the ECU after OBDII, so it should be plug and play to do such a thing - this is literally what they are doing now for their emissions chicanery.