The U.S. Treasury's Terror Financing unit has launched an inquiry into how Islamic State is obtaining large numbers of Toyota pickup trucks and SUVs.
The world's second-largest automaker said it is "supporting" the investigation, with Ed Lewis, Toyota's director of public policy and communications in Washington, telling ABC News the company has briefed the Treasury on supply chains in the Middle East and procedures in place to safeguard supply chain integrity. Toyota, he said, has a "strict policy to not sell vehicles to potential purchasers who may use or modify them for paramilitary or terrorist activities."
ISIS propaganda videos filmed in Iraq, Syria, and Libya show numerous Hilux and Land Cruiser vehicles marked with ISIS seals, including one video ABC News says was shot in Raqqa, Syria, featuring an ISIS parade where more than two-thirds of the vehicles were Toyotas. "Regrettably, the Toyota Land Cruiser and Hilux have effectively become almost part of the ISIS brand," said Mark Wallace, CEO of the Counter Extremism Project and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. "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."
Toyota's Lewis said most of the Toyotas appearing in the videos are not new models, and the company cannot track down stolen vehicles or ones that have been bought and re-sold by middlemen. An Iraqi military spokesman told ABC News he thinks trucks are being smuggled into Iraq by outside middlemen, and Toyota distributors in the region said they are unsure how the trucks are getting to ISIS. Wallace said he doesn't think Toyota is "trying to intentionally profit from it, but they are on notice now and they should do more."