US counter-terrorism officials have asked Toyota how it is that Isil has managed to acquire quite so many of their 4x4s, according to ABC.
Have they only just noticed?
Toyotas – and in particular the Hilux – have long been the vehicle of choice for rebel movements, insurgents, militants, terrorists and violent jihadists around the world. I’ve seen them at work in Liberia and Libya. And hitched rides in them in Darfur, Somalia and Afghanistan.
It’s easy to understand their popularity
- They are tough (see Top Gear’s attempt at destroying a Hilux above)
- The Hilux, in particular, has very high ground clearance
- Spare parts are easy to come by (more so than say LandRovers)
- Did I mention they are tough?
It’s not surprising that Isil is keen on them. So how did they get them?
Recently, when the US State Department resumed sending non-lethal aid to Syrian rebels, the delivery list included 43 Toyota trucks.
Anyway, Toyota has the market sewn up (despite perhaps their public protestations that they never sell to terrorists). For a great article on the popularity of Toyotas in war zones there is this Newsweek piece which starts with the strange observation about maple leaf – or Canadian flag – tattoos turning up on Afghan fighters…
When a perplexed Kilcullen began to investigate, he says, he discovered that the incongruous flags were linked to what he says is one of the most important, and unnoticed, weapons of guerrilla war in Afghanistan and across the world: the lightweight, virtually indestructible Toyota Hilux truck.