As Territory Shrinks, ISIS Draws Inspiration From George Peppard and Joins the Crossover Craze

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
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as territory shrinks isis draws inspiration from george peppard and joins the

If there’s one thing shared by members of ISIS and the Western world, it’s an appreciation for the utility and versatility of high-value crossovers. Yes, even militant, fundamentalist killers have a myriad of needs requiring the likes of a Hyundai Tucson or Kia Sorento.

As Iraqi forces continue their push into territory previously seized by members of the Islamic State, visual evidence has emerged of the desperate tactics employed by the retreating fighters. Perhaps the most surprising are a plethora of Korean crossovers outfitted for battle.

Just minutes ago, those forces declared a symbolic victory over ISIS, retaking the landmark (and ruined) Great Mosque of al-Nuri in the city of Mosul, once home to two million residents. The eradication of ISIS in Mosul threatens to leave the terrorist group without a stronghold. Already, funding has all but dried up.

Apparently, many of the suicide car bomb attacks planned by ISIS were foiled by the allied advance into Mosul. Left in the withdrawing fighters’ wake was a bevy of specially outfitted vehicles and a workshop where normal grocery getters transformed into A-Team-like rolling ironclads. Naturally, the Iraqis held an exhibition. (You’ll get a kick out of those pictures.)

While we’re all familiar with the beige Toyota Hilux pickups so favored by ISIS, the supply of those go-anywhere vehicles isn’t getting any larger — they’re now mostly used for launching conventional attacks, usually with a machine gun mounted in the bed. Militants with scarce resources would hardly press a Hilux into car bomb duty.

Enter the crossover. It isn’t known exactly where ISIS got its hands on so many Hyundai and Kia vehicles, but abandoned second-generation Tucsons and Sorentos seem to be everywhere. In Mosul, ISIS fighters removed exterior body panels in order to mount flat, bullet-deflecting iron panels, often adding tire-protecting fender skirts. So heavy is the makeshift armor that in many cases the crossovers bear a striking resemblance to a Civil War gunboat or WWI armored car. (Or, in more lightly armored guise, a retro-futuristic vehicle from the Fifth Element.)

A Kia representative, speaking to Business Insider, claims the vehicles at its two Mosul dealerships were removed before ISIS overran the city in 2014. This suggests ISIS stole the vehicles from civilian owners — a theory backed up by the models’ vintage. All captured Hyundai and Kia vehicles seem to date from 2012 to 2014, which jibes with the period Hyundai and its sister marque operated their Mosul dealerships.

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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4 of 29 comments
  • Kvndoom Kvndoom on Jun 29, 2017

    Damn. Before seeing those pics, I thought the Road Warrior was fiction.

  • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on Jun 30, 2017

    I'm thinking a couple of things here. 1. Da'esh have little money. 2. The clamp down on Hiluxes and other light commercials is finally impacting Da'esh. One thing. These Sorentoes don't like the heat here in this part of the world. We are siezing Sorento (EBs)engines from idling too long. As I also stated Ford's EBs don't like the heat either.

    • JohnTaurus JohnTaurus on Jun 30, 2017

      ISIS + Hyundai/Kia CUVs = F-150 sux. Okay, just checking.

  • SilverCoupe I should be the potential audience for this (current A5 owner, considering an S5 in the future), but I can't say it excites me. I have never liked the vertical bars in the grilles of sporting Mercedes models, for one thing. The interior doesn't speak to me either.I would be more likely to consider a BMW 4 Series, though not the current version with the double Edsel grille. Still, I suppose it would be worth a look when the time comes to replace my current vehicle.
  • Verbal Can we expect this model to help M-B improve on finishing 29th out of 30 brands in CR's recent reliability survey?
  • Lou_BC I kept wanted to say "Book 'Em Danno" while looking at the photos of the Mercury but this car predate Hawaii Five - O by 3 years.
  • 28-Cars-Later Someone finally remembered what a coupe is over at MBZ.
  • 28-Cars-Later Pay more, get less!