U.S. Treasury officials have asked automaker Toyota for help in an inquiry into how ISIS has obtained so many of the company's pick-up trucks and SUVs seen in the group's propaganda videos, ABC News reported on October 6.
Toyota had said that the company is cooperating with the inquiry, led by the Treasury Department's Terror Financing unit. The inquiry is part of a broader effort by the Department to study how international supply chains and capital flow into the Middle East.
"Toyota has a strict policy to not sell vehicles to potential purchasers who may use or modify them for paramilitary or terrorist activities, and we have procedures and contractual commitments in place to help prevent our products from being diverted for unauthorized military use," said Toyota spokesman Ed Lewis in a statement to CNN. He added, however, that it is impossible for any carmaker to completely control how vehicles could be misappropriated, stolen or resold by independent third parties.
ISIS has used Toyota Hilux pickup trucks and Toyota Land Cruisers in many of its videos.
“Regrettably, the Toyota Land Cruiser and Hilux have effectively become almost part of the ISIS brand,” said Mark Wallace, a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations who now works as the CEO of the Counter Extremism Project, a nonprofit working to fight and expose extremist financial networks.
Wallace stated that he thinks Toyota is a great company, but the use of the vehicles in ISIS propaganda videos shows the company needs to put more effective policies in place to prevent it from occurring.
Questions have circulated about ISIS' use of the vehicles ever since the group rose to prominence in early 2014. Brigadier General Saad Maan said that he suspects third parties from outside Iraq have been smuggling Toyota trucks into the country.
“We are spending our time to fight those terrorists so we cannot say we are controlling the border between Iraq and Syria,” he said in a statement to ABC News.
Toyota distributors contacted by ABC News did not have an answer on how the trucks reached ISIS, nor did Sumitomo, a Japanese conglomerate which ships vehicles to the region.