Cat Hiles

Why Do Terrorists Love Toyota Trucks?

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Toyota Hilux ISIS inquiry

The 2016 Toyota Hilux

That’s the question the US government is current asking. It seems that the terrorist organization that calls itself the Islamic State, or ISIS, is using fairly new Toyota Land Cruiser and Hilux trucks as its main transport, as various propaganda videos have shown. Both vehicles are built for the types of terrain that feature in these videos—predominantly off-road tracks and desert landscapes. Yet the question remains—how are these terrorists getting their hands on these trucks, and does Toyota itself know anything about it?

Launching an Inquiry

The US Treasury Department’s Terror Financing unit has officially opened an investigation to determine whether or not ISIS’ use of Toyota trucks could be more than a mere coincidence. Toyota responded by issuing a statement announcing that it was cooperating with the inquiry, and mentioned that “Toyota has a strict policy to not sell vehicles to potential purchasers who may use or modify them for paramilitary or terrorist activities.”

Land Cruiser 70 ISIS inquiry

The Japan-only Land Cruiser 70 is typically the model used by ISIS

Realistically, there are a couple of ways that ISIS could be getting its hands on the Toyota vehicles. It’s possible that they are being purchased by sympathizers and shipped to the terrorist group. Another theory says that ISIS is stealing the vehicles from various sources (such as Syrian rebels) and smuggling them in.

An Ongoing Problem

The story of militants using Toyota vehicles isn’t exactly new. Earlier this year, SNL made a controversial parody video that featured a father in a Camry dropping his daughter off at a bus station where she is met by a group of ISIS militants in a Toyota truck. The parody played off Toyota’s “My Bold Dad” commercial, which featured a father dropping his daughter off at the airport to move away from home while reminiscing about her growing up over the years.

The parody received mixed feelings because it made light of the unsettling reality that a number of American teens are being converted to extremism by ISIS on social media and running off to join the group in the Middle East. It was sheer luck for SNL that the Toyota “My Bold Dad” commercial made it so easy to parody this fact (albeit insensitively), and the fact that ISIS prefers Toyota vehicles.

“It is impossible for any automaker to control indirect or illegal channels through which our vehicles could be misappropriated, stolen or resold,” Toyota explained in its statement.

Hopefully, ISIS’ use of the vehicles really is a coincidence. If the US’ inquiry turns up any evidence that Toyota is somehow funding the militant group, the fallout would make VW’s Dieselgate look insignificant in comparison.

News Source: Automotive News (subscription required)

  • Cat HilesManaging Editor

    Catherine Hiles is a native Brit currently based in Dayton, Ohio. Don't ask how that happened. Cat has written about a variety of subjects, from dog training to fashion, and counts running and cooking among her hobbies. Cat lives with her husband, Ben; their daughter, Rose; and their collection of animals, including an energetic mutt, an elderly basset hound, and a jerk cat. See more articles by Cat.


    Simple they’re simple, reliable and tough.. We need the “real” Toyota’s in the USA to understand. But alas our silly laws make sure we can only have Toyota’s that are fit for King or a pretentious soccer mom.

  • Litmuz

    I bought a Toyota 4runner in 1994 when my daughter was born and now she’s driving this vehicle.

  • lifeiscarbon

    This article makes it seem as if use of Toyota trucks by militant or terrorist organizations is somehow a recent development.. has their use in Africa and the Middle East really been that much of a secret for the last thirty years?