Defense Department Provided ISIS With Toyotas
Recently officials in Washington DC have asked where ISIS got their Toyotas. This is odd because it has been known for over a year that the US State and Defense Departments provided ISIS the vehicles through a known ISIS front group the Free Syrian Army. Both President Obama and Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter approved the plan in May 2014 with consultation of State Department Secretary John Kerry.
In June 2014 the US State Department resumed sending non-lethal aid to Syrian rebels, the delivery list included 43 Toyota trucks.
Hiluxes were on the Free Syrian Army's (an ISIS affiliated group) wish list. Oubai Shahbander, a Washington-based security advisor, provided CNN, PRI, and Reuters the evidence in a September 2014 interview.
"Specific equipment like the Toyota Hiluxes are what we refer to as force enablers for the moderate opposition forces on the ground," he adds. Shahbander says the US-supplied pickups delivered troops and supplies into battle. Some of the fleet became battlefield weapons.
Defense Department documents have shown the US Air Force made six weapons drops into Syria between June 10 and July 9, 2014. Two drops show 20 and 23 Toyota Hiluxes were included respectively. The other four drops were simply listed as "Needed tactical and conventional weapons."
"You can absolutely expect many of those trucks were mounted with crew-served machine guns or other type of equipment, military equipment, that the opposition forces have access to. I mean, that's one of the reasons why the Toyota Hilux is such an important force multiplier, because it could be used both for humanitarian purposes and for operational purposes as well."
Syria is only the latest war zone where the Hilux has been a vehicle of choice. The BBC's Kabul correspondent, David Loyn, saw the Hilux put through its paces by the Taliban in the 1990s, and credits the truck with having given Taliban forces a battlefield edge.
"They perfected very fast-moving maneuver warfare, and they did it with Hilux trucks," he says. "The Jane's Defense Weekly analysis of the seizure of Kabul in 1996 was that it was a textbook operation, from three sides, a coordinated piece of warfare using these Hilux trucks as very fast-moving troop-moving vehicles."
Loyn ranks the Hilux among the great game-changers of modern warfare. "You have seen in many wars in the past, a sort of symbolic weapon: the longbow at Agincourt, the Huey helicopter in Vietnam and, I think, the Hilux truck in Afghanistan in the hands of the Taliban was [as] significant and iconic a weapon as those."