A Texas plumber has been receiving threats after a photo emerged of Islamic extremists in Syria firing a high-powered gun from the bed of his old pickup, which still bears his company’s logo on the door. An extremist group, Ansar al-Deen Front, posted the photo of its fighters aboard the Ford F-250 sometime on Monday. That prompted a flood of calls to Mark Oberholtzer, who owns Mark-1 Plumbing in Texas City, and has nothing to do with Syria’s bloody civil war. “How it ended up in Syria, I’ll never know,” Oberholtzer told The Galveston Daily News. Oberholtzer told the paper that he traded in the truck three years ago. The Houston dealership he turned it over to, AutoNation, told KHOU.com that the truck was auctioned at wholesale and sent to Turkey.
US Officials Ask How ISIS Got So Many Toyota Trucks. U.S. counter-terror officials have asked Toyota, the world’s second largest auto maker, to help them determine how ISIS has managed to acquire the large number of Toyota pick-up trucks and SUVs seen prominently in the terror group’s propaganda videos in Iraq, Syria and Libya, ABC News has learned. Toyota says it does not know how ISIS obtained the vehicles and is “supporting” the inquiry led by the Terror Financing unit of the Treasury Department — part of a broad U.S. effort to prevent Western-made goods from ending up in the hands of the terror group. Toyota has a “strict policy to not sell vehicles to potential purchasers who may use or modify them for paramilitary or terrorist activities,” Lewis said. He said it is impossible for the company to track vehicles that have been stolen, or have been bought and re-sold by middlemen.
Toyota Hilux pickups, an overseas model similar to the Toyota Tacoma, and Toyota Land Cruisers have become fixtures in videos of the ISIS campaign in Iraq, Syria and Libya, and the same goes for the Taliban in Afghanistan, with their truck beds loaded with heavy weapons and cabs jammed with terrorists. The Iraqi Ambassador to the United States, Lukman Faily, told ABC News that in addition to re-purposing older trucks, his government believes ISIS has acquired “hundreds” of “brand new” Toyotas in recent years, so did the Taliban in Afghanistan. ISIS propaganda videos show gunmen patrolling Syrian streets in what appear to be older and newer model white Hilux pick-ups bearing the black caliphate seal and crossing Libya in long caravans of gleaming tan Toyota Land Cruisers. When ISIS soldiers paraded through the center of Raqqa, more than two-thirds of the vehicles were the familiar white Toyotas with the black emblems. Brigadier General Saad Maan, an Iraqi military spokesman, told ABC News he suspects that middlemen from outside Iraq have been smuggling the trucks into his country. http://abcnews.go.com/International/us-officials-isis-toyota-trucks/story?id=34266539
This is not the first time a US based vehicle has shown up in Syria or Iraq used by Islamic terrorists. A Texas SUV loaded with explosives was found in Falluja Nov. 18 2004 and was one of al-Masri’s truck bombs, the vehicle came from Houston TX via Dubai UAE to iraq, the used car company that sent the vehicle is based in Houston and Tampa Fl. Investigators said they are comparing several other cases where vehicles evidently stolen in the United States that wound up in Syria or other Middle East countries and ultimately into the hands of Iraqi insurgent groups — including Islamic State (IS) and Al Qaeda in Iraq, see http://www.billwarnerpi.com/2008_04_27_archive.html
Inspector John E. Lewis, deputy assistant director of the FBI for counter terrorism said the origins of the vehicles in question were unearthed by tracing the vehicle identification numbers, or VINs. Some of the automobiles can be easily identified, specialists said, while others have had their VINs ground down or have been fitted with fake ones. Investigators believe the cars were stolen by local car thieves in US cities, then smuggled to waiting ships at ports in Los Angeles, Seattle, and Houston, among other cities (Tampa), see http://www.billwarnerpi.com/2008_04_27_archive.html