10:40 GMT27 January 2020
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    Washington has opened an investigation into how the Islamic State has managed to obtain so many Toyota pick-up trucks and SUVs, which feature in the jihadist group's propaganda videos.

    The Terror Financing Unit of the US Treasury Department is investigating how Islamic State militants managed to acquire so many Toyota pick-up trucks and SUVs; the vehicles constantly appear in the jihadist group's propaganda videos, media reports said.

    Toyota, the world’s second largest auto manufacturer, has already reportedly said that they are assisting in the inquiry, but that they do not know how their vehicles were obtained by the militants.

    "We briefed Treasury on Toyota’s supply chains in the Middle East and the procedures that Toyota has in place to protect supply chain integrity," Ed Lewis, Toyota’s Washington-based director of public policy and communications, said.

    He also said that Toyota has a "strict policy to not sell vehicles to potential purchasers who may use or modify them for paramilitary or terrorist activities."  At the same time, he added that "it is impossible for Toyota to completely control indirect or illegal channels through which our vehicles could be misappropriated."

    The Toyota Hilux pick-up is the vehicle of choice for the Islamic State (also known as ISIL or ISIS); it is sold outside North America, Korea and Japan and is similar to the Toyota Tacoma and Toyota Land Cruiser. The vehicles have repeatedly appeared, heavily armed, in the propaganda videos the Islamic State shoots in Libya, Syria and Iraq.

    "Regrettably, the Toyota Land Cruiser and Hilux have effectively become almost part of the ISIS brand," Mark Wallace, a former US Ambassador to the UN, was quoted by ANC News as saying.

    He added that "ISIS has used these vehicles in order to engage in military-type activities, terror activities, and the like."

    In 2014, the US State Department reportedly delivered 43 Toyota trucks to Syrian rebels, within the framework of its program on supporting the so-called moderate Syrian opposition.

    Also, it was reported that more than 800 of the Toyota vehicles allegedly went missing in Sydney between 2014 and 2015, with terror experts suggesting that the vehicles may have been supplied to Islamic State militants.

    Toyota, for its part, said that the sales of Hilux pick-ups and Land Cruisers in Iraq dropped to 13,000 last year, after they tripled from 6,000 sold in Iraq in 2011 to 18,000 sold in 2013.

    Last week, US President Barack Obama reportedly authorized the resupply of Syrian Kurds and the Arab-Syrian opposition, as part of his stated strategy to eliminate ISIL.

    The topic was the bottom line of political pundit Matt Purple's recent article in the US magazine The National Interest.

    He recalled that Washington has armed and trained the so-called moderate Syrian rebels since 2013, "first through the CIA, to the tune of one billion dollars a year, and then through the Pentagon." According to Purple, "the result of this has been wholly predictable, with American-trained rebels relinquishing their weapons to al-Qaeda and ISIS fighters brandishing US-made anti-tank missiles."


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    Daesh, vehicles, militants, investigation, US Treasury Department, Toyota, Libya, Syria, Iraq, United States
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