Toyota, the second largest automotive manufacturer worldwide, is under investigation following the many vehicles featured in ISIS terrorist videos. Mark Wallace, a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations said, “ISIS has used these vehicles in order to engage in military-type activities, terror activities, and the like,” he explains, “But in nearly every ISIS video, they show a fleet -- a convoy of Toyota vehicles and that’s very concerning to us.”
Ed Lewis, a Toyota executive explained “We have procedures in place to help ensure our products are not diverted for unauthorized military use.” However, Faily said his government believes that in addition to refurbishing older vehicle models, ISIS has somehow managed to acquire “hundreds” of “brand-new” trucks in recent years.
Older models similar to the Tacoma and Land Cruiser have been featured in videos carrying heavy weapons and transporting terrorists. Wallace goes on to say that, “Regrettably, the Toyota Land Cruiser and Hilux have effectively become almost part of the ISIS brand”. More than two-thirds of the vehicles used in the parade through Raqqa were the signature white Toyota with the black emblem. Other manufacturers seen at the event included Isuzu, Hyundai, and Mitsubishi.
It is unknown to Toyota how ISIS was able to get so many vehicles. Ed Lewis, the director of public policy in Toyota’s Washington facility, explained that the company has a “strict policy to not sell vehicles to potential purchasers who may use or modify them for paramilitary or terrorist activities.” Although it is difficult for the company to screen potential buyers, Lewis states, “It is impossible for Toyota to completely control indirect or illegal channels through which our vehicles could be misappropriated.”
This isn’t the first time Toyota has been questioned in regards to ISIS acquiring their vehicles, in 2014, the radio broadcaster Public Radio International discovered that 43 Toyota trucks were distributed to Syrian rebels. In addition, more than 800 missing trucks from Sydney Australia are believed to have been delivered to ISIS Territory.
Sales of Toyota trucks reached a whopping 18,000 units sold in Iraq in 2013 compared to a mere 6,000 in 2011. Organizations such as the Counter Extremism Project are urging Toyota to take action and do further tracking on the truck flow to ISIS. “I don’t think Toyota’s trying to intentionally profit from it, but they are on notice now and they should do more”, Wallace explains. “They should be able to figure it out... how are these trucks getting there. I think they should disclose that, put a stop to that, and put policies and procedures in places that are real and effective to make sure that we don’t see videos of ISIS using Toyota trucks in the future.”
Toyota halted sales in Syria in 2012. Abdul Latif Jameel, the Saudi company, said it “made the decision to cease all trading activities in the country and fully divested the business in October, 2012.”
Toyota has since briefed the U.S Treasury team. Officials have since stated agents are “working closely with foreign counterparts and stakeholders” on finding a solution. “We cannot provide further details of our interaction with Treasury as we do not want to compromise its efforts to understand and prevent diversion, or make it easier for illicit groups to penetrate our supply chains or those of any other company,” Lewis said.