By on June 29, 2017

2014 Kia Sorento EX-008

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.

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29 Comments on “As Territory Shrinks, ISIS Draws Inspiration from George Peppard and Joins the Crossover Craze...”


  • avatar
    Omnifan

    They get their Hyundais and Kias the same way we do in the States. No Credit, Bad Credit, Bankruptcy, Repossession – NO PROBLEM.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Imagine the balls it takes to repo a car from one of these guys…assuming, of course, the guy hasn’t already blown himself and the car up.

      Ultimate Credit Criminal.

    • 0 avatar
      jh26036

      You sure it isn’t the industry leading bumper to bumper warranty.

      BUMPER 2 BUMPER.

      BUMPER TOOOOOOOO BUMPER.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        How bout bumper to BOOOOOOOM!?

        “And I tell you, infidel! He said it was pulling to the right before he blew it up! Now. Am I going to have to call your manager? Or maybe we bring in special Kia for you to test after we leave and go down street to watch?”

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Which is unfortunate since the recall for that era engine seize the crank journals from debris. I guess they won’t get the recall we did here.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        Might’ve saved lives. Those engines could evidently self-destruct in a normal Hyundai being driven in Virginia by a 68 year old lady who didn’t get the memo that the 55 mph mandated speed limit has been repealed quite some time ago, how do you think it’ll hold up to literally brick like aerodynamics, very heavy armor, artillery etc, then had most of the airflow blocked off by the solid panels up front, and being driven in Iraqi desert (which isn’t exactly a sunny day in Portland) by radical gorilla fighters who have only death and destruction on their minds?

        Finally, Hyundai quality issues benefit mankind! I’d make a commercial.

        “Look, we dropped the ball on these engines, okay, SORRY! And we treated the guy who told on us like a criminal, SORRY! But, we knew all along we were fighting the War on Terror. So, not sorry. Now what? Yeah… thought so.
        0 payments for 18 years, no credit check on what might very well be an okay car. Probably. I mean it isn’t 1989! *wink* yep, your buddy (who drives a Camry) said we are better now, you know. Its like, nowhere to go from the bottom, but up. See dealer for a few details.”

  • avatar
    Rick T.

    A KIA joke in there somewhere.

  • avatar
    matt3319

    Introducing Hyundia’s and Kia’s Middle east only SUV models!!

    2017 Hyundia Kaboom

    2017 Kia Baboom

    In stock now and ready for your explosive excitement!!

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Throw in 5 untraceable burn phones and its a deal. Oh, and I will need the undercoat, this thing is gonna live a short but terrible life.

      Extended warranty? Why the fu…. Never mind.

  • avatar
    nels0300

    Should Toyota be worried?

    They’ve had this market for decades and H/K is finally making inroads.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Nice piece!

    I think Toyota’s Al-Qaeda/CIA/Mossad market share is safe though. The headline reads: “ISIS Suicide Vehicles on Show in Iraq’s Mosul”. This implies the makeshift armored cars were intended for suicide missions and therefore disposable. I’m not up on terrorist tactics but I think they didn’t use their Hiluxes in such a way.

  • avatar
    ChesterChi

    It’s probably too late now, but it would have been a great way to dispose of all the diesels that VW had to buy back – sell them to ISIS at a discount.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      Oh, but they’re too small (except for the Jetta wagons) – no room for enough ANFO or TATP.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      I think it would be more fun to stage demolition durbys with them. Charge admission (except to ex owners, Kyree and the like get in free), sell raffle tickets for driving positions (again, first choice goes to dieselgate “victims”), donate it all to cancer research, or in applicable areas, towards charging stations *everyone* (not just VWs) with BEVs can use. Maybe some to increase the network of other alt fuels stations so Honda and Toyota only lose so much on their Hydrogen project cars (lol).

      Offer CNG at the same locations, lots of fleets utilize CNG, I saw a new F-150 base model 4×4 today with a CNG sticker on the tailgate, had temp tags on it and a dealer’s sticker from Watson Quality Ford- a very high volume Ford dealer in Louisiana that you see represented all along the northern gulf coast states, especially on government vehicles. If I had a $1 for every time I saw their logo on a Crown Vic in the last 15+ years, I’d own lots of the cars I often talk about admiring!

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        *Sorry, I guess Watson Quality is in Jackson, Ms. That would explain state vehicles, although I’ve seen plenty from neighboring states, this truck I saw was in Mobile, Al, so they must do an awful lot of fleet for a large area.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    When you said George Peppard, I was hoping we were talking about Banacek, and insurance cases. Hopefully ISIS isn’t blowing them up and then filing diminished value claims.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Just another indication of the slow decline of Toyota. ;-)

    People were right, the Koreans would start building more desirable products.

    (the above was snark if you didn’t figure that out)

  • avatar
    kvndoom

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

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    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.

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