Why Does ISIS Drive So Many Toyota Vehicles? Treasury Department Launches Investigation

Toyota vehicles — gleaming new ones alongside re-purposed older models retrofitted with rocket launchers and other improvised weapons — are a fixture of ISIS (or ISIL) propaganda videos, and the U.S. Treasury Department would like to know why, Market Watch is reporting.

Two Toyota models in particular, the Toyota Hilux (a truck similar to the U.S. version, the Toyota Tacoma) and the Toyota Land Cruiser SUV, are favored by ISIS terrorists for reasons that aren’t clear.

In fact, says the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Mark Wallace, Toyota vehicles are now synonymous with ISIS.

“Regrettably, 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. But in nearly every ISIS video, they show a fleet — a convoy of Toyota vehicles and that’s very concerning to us.”

In one particular ISIS propaganda vehicle, as ISIS militants are seen parading through the Syrian city of Raqqa, nearly two-thirds of the vehicles are Toyotas (Mitsubishis and Isuzus can also be seen). It’s a situation that alarms the Iraqi Ambassador to the U.S., Luckman Fally.

“This is a question we’ve been asking our neighbors. How could these brand new trucks… these four wheel drives, hundreds of them — where are they coming from?”

Now, the Terror Financing division of the Treasury Department — which is, in part, charged with keeping Western goods (and money) out of the hands of terrorists — has officially put Toyota “on notice” that there will be an inquiry, according to ABC News.

“I don’t think Toyota’s trying to intentionally profit from it, but they are on notice now and they should do more.”

Toyota, for its part, is “supporting” the Treasury Department’s investigation, according to spokesperson Ed Lewis.

“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. [Toyota has a] strict policy to not sell vehicles to potential purchasers who may use or modify them for paramilitary or terrorist activities.”

Unfortunately for Toyota, the automaker cannot control what happens to their vehicles once they’re sold, and it’s impossible for the company to keep track of its vehicles that have been bought and re-sold or stolen.

Questions about ISIS’ fondness for Toyota vehicles are not new. In 2014, Public Radio International reported that the State Department had delivered some 43 Toyota vehicles to Syrian rebels, some of which have undoubtedly wound up in the hands of ISIS. Similarly, an Australian newspaper reported on some 800 Toyota trucks disappearing from Sydney, with anonymous sources saying they were shipped out of the country and headed toward the Middle East, where middle men would then sell or give them to ISIS. Iraqi military spokesman Brigadier General Saad Maan also believes that smugglers are funneling Toyotas — stolen or re-purchased from middle men — into ISIS hands.

“We are spending our time to fight those terrorists so we cannot say we are controlling the border between Iraq and Syria. We are deeply in need for answers.”

The situation has proven almost comical to some observers. Twitter users have pointed out that Toyota even has a model called the “Isis.” However, to be fair, that Toyota model dates to 2004, long before the terrorist group was on anyone’s radar. It was named after an Egyptian goddess, not a terrorist group.

“Curiously, Toyota has a model that is called Toyota Isis. Ironies of life.”

Conservative website the Blaze even had some fun with the unfortunately-named Toyota model, producing a fake “propaganda video” called “Toyota ISIS: We’re good for Jihad!”

In a statement, Toyota said it will be working closely with its “foreign counterparts and stakeholders” to address the issue of its vehicles winding up in the hands of ISIS.

[Image courtesy of: Getty Images/John Moore]