In response to the airstrikes on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center on September 11, the US launched a military campaign against the terrorist organization Al Qaeda resulting in the overthrow of the Taliban government of Afghanistan.
New Delhi: In response to the airstrikes on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center on September 11, the US launched a military campaign against the terrorist organization Al Qaeda resulting in the overthrow of the Taliban government of Afghanistan.
During this war, a shocking information came to the fore. David Kilquelan, considered a global counter-terrorism analyst, noticed by a tattoo that was made on the bodies of several Afghan fighters. He was surprised to see that it was not a Taliban tattoo. It had nothing to do with Afghanistan either. It was a tattoo of the maple tree leaf in the national flag of Canada.
Surprised by this, when David got involved in the investigation, he found the connection of this leaf-shaped tattoo to a weapon that had gone unnoticed till then. This was Toyota's pickup truck Hilux.
During an interview, David said, "There is a lot of respect for this vehicle in Afghanistan. Initially, many fraudulent entrepreneurs had introduced fake Hilux trucks in the market. These trucks soon hit the market, but the Afghan fighters were disappointed by their poor performance. Then a fleet of genuine Hilux trucks from Canada (of the Japanese company Toyota) arrived in Afghanistan. The national emblem of Canada (maple leaf) was inscribed on the reverse side of these trucks. It was the original product whose strength and reliability made the Afghans a fan of the Toyota Hilux. Because it had a maple leaf behind it, in Afghanistan this symbol was considered synonymous with high quality. The Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters began getting maple leaf tattoos, as Hilux proved to be extremely helpful in jihadist operations."
However, in his interview, David did not reveal how these trucks from Canada reached the terrorists! And never has Toyota in any of its commercial marketing campaigns mentioned the remarkable achievement of how its vehicles have become another name for credibility in Afghanistan!
But the Hilux was not the first Toyota vehicle used by al-Qaeda fighters. According to a report published in the New York Times in November 2001, al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden and his military commander Muhammad Atif were very fond of Toyota's SUV Landcruiser. At that time a videotape also surfaced in which Atif and another al-Qaeda commander were seen with Land Cruiser vehicles. Emergency lights were installed on the roofs of these vehicles similar to police vehicles.
When Japanese automobile company Toyota was asked about this, the company said that it has officially exported only one Land Cruiser (in 1997) to Afghanistan during the last five years. Regarding the ever-increasing number of its vehicles in Afghanistan, Toyota said, "Currently the company does not have any sales or distributor channel in Afghanistan. All these vehicles are being taken there from neighboring countries by unauthorized means.
Like AK 47 rifles, Toyota Hilux vehicles favourite of terrorists
Toyota made the first production of Hylex fifty years ago in March-1968. David Lowen, who was a correspondent in Kabul for the BBC, said that the Toyota Hilux had given Taliban fighters a lot of strength. While the use of these vehicles provided great convenience to terrorist groups in transporting fighters and weapons from one place to another, these vehicles also emerged as a big challenge for the security agencies.
In view of the seriousness of the damage caused by them, Andrew Axum, an officer associated with US security organizations, said during an interview that like AK 47 in rifles, Toyota Hilex in vehicles.
The association of such insurgent organizations towards Toyota Hylex is not limited to Afghanistan only. This vehicle was already being used by all such organizations around the world and this trend continues till now.
A few years ago, an article was published in the famous magazine Newsweek. According to this, the Toyota Hilux is one of the most important weapons being used in the guerrilla wars happening around the world. From Afghanistan to Somalia and from Nicaragua to Chad, there is a lot of demand for this vehicle. Statistics show that the sales and popularity of both these Toyota vehicles (Hilux and Landcruiser) have grown at an astonishing rate year after year.
It is said that Toyota vehicles were first used in Somalia in rebel activities. In the 1960s, when there was a border dispute between Somalia and Ethiopia, Somalia made full use of Toyota vehicles.
But later, seeing the convenience of these vehicles, pirates started using them. An article was also published in the New York Times about this with the title 'Booters' Choice: Hilux'.
In 2014, there were reports that the US had sent a consignment of weapons, including 43 Hilux trucks, to help Syrian rebel forces. It was said that the rebel leaders of Syria had demanded Hilux trucks from the US due to their excellent performance in the war.
According to reports, these trucks were also involved in the aid coming from Britain to the Syrian rebel army.
Liked by ISIS
In the videos released by IS for its promotion, a large number of Toyota trucks have started appearing in the last few years. Most of these are new. Mark Wallace, the former US ambassador to the United Nations, says that unfortunately, Toyota trucks have become associated with the identity of ISIS.
When Toyota was asked about this, the company said that it is very difficult for any automaker to stop the unauthorized buying and selling of old vehicles.
Experts say that the defense agencies were not satisfied with Toyota's answer. So they continued their investigations. These revealed the reasons due to which these trucks were reaching ISIS. Reports suggest that the US and European countries sent a large number of Hilux trucks to Syrian rebels from where they were stolen by ISIS terrorists.
Apart from this, these trucks are also secretly brought from other countries and sold to these terrorists at a good price. According to an Australian report, around 800 Toyota trucks went missing between 2014 and 2015. Fears were raised that they were passed on to ISIS.
During the First World War, Germany had overwhelmed France. German forces were preparing to besiege Paris in 1914. The general of France needed more number of soldiers. But at that time no such medium was seen which could bring the soldiers there in a short time. Then about 6000 French soldiers were transported from Paris to the battlefield (near the Maren river) via 600 taxi cabs. And surprisingly, France managed to defend Paris. Such use of cars in a war had become an example forever.
A similar decisive role of four wheelers was also seen in Africa. Libya occupied Aozou, the northern part of Chad (African country) in 1972. There was a long dispute between the two countries over this part, which ended with a war in 1987. France was in support of Chad in this war, which unexpectedly sent a stock of 400 Toyota Hilux trucks to Chad along with air support as an aid. Anti-tank and anti-aircraft missile launchers were specially added to the rear of many of these trucks along with machine guns.
However, France never officially gave any explanation for this move. The question was why did he send these commercial trucks to Chad instead of military vehicles in this war, when Libya had a large number of war tanks and armored military vehicles available. Experts say that France took this decision in view of its experience in the First World War.
According to the media agency 'Drive', the price of those Toyota trucks was only 0.4 percent compared to a war tank. Apart from this, the Hilux trucks did not stand anywhere in front of the war tanks in terms of power. Nevertheless, with less weight, ease of handling and a top speed of 100 km/h, these trucks inflicted considerable damage on Libyan troops, especially their tanks and airbases, and turned the tide of the war.
The Libyan fighter jets focused their full attention on destroying these trucks, which proved to be the most damaging for them. But due to their fast speed, this could not be possible. With the help of Hylex trucks, Chad, which had been weakening for nearly 15 years, became heavy and Libya had to retreat at the end of the war. In 1994 the International Court of Justice rejected Libya's claim of authority over Aojao.
In this entire incident, Hilux, which had emerged like a hero, had caught the attention of the media. In this war, 400 Hilux trucks played that decisive role that this fight became a unique example forever and was recorded in the pages of history as 'Toyota War'.
Why has Toyota cars become main choice of insurgent groups?
To know the answer to this question, experts from all over the world are engaged in the investigation. Most of them believe that the Toyota Hilux has become the first choice of these groups due to its light weight, tremendous speed and being able to carry weapons with around 20 people.
Britain's expert Dr Alastair Finlan believes that the Toyota Hylex is a tool with the help of which any combat force can be surprisingly many times more effective. With only a 50-caliber (machine gun) attached to the Hylex, it takes the form of a vehicle capable of destructing troops and lightly armored vehicles.
Oubai Shahbander, the Syrian National Coalition Adviser based in Washington, is a huge fan of this truck. He says that thr Toyota Hilux is a special weapon that can increase the power of any side that is weak on the battlefield.
Kevin Hunter, president of Toyota's design division, explains in an interview that the Hylex was designed to be a light-weight truck. The ground clearance of this big wheeled truck is very high, due to which it can move comfortably on unpaved roads, mountains, mud etc. According to Hunter, the Hilux is built on the 'Body on Frame' platform. Due to this it is much stronger than other cars.
In 2006, the BBC's popular TV show 'Top Gear' used an 18-year-old Hilux which had run 1,90,000 miles as an experiment. First this truck was driven on the stairs and then it was used to hit walls and trees.
After that this truck was kept submerged in the sea for five hours. Even after this, when this truck did not stop working, heavy vehicles were dropped on it.
Still the gears, clutch, steering, even the speedometer of this truck were working properly. In the end, the show's operators set this Hilux on fire. But this truck kept working wonderfully.
In another similar episode, a Hilux truck is taken to a 240 feet high building and the building is demolished. But even after this, there was no need to change any part in this vehicle. After a few repairs with just a hammer and a wrench, it was back in running condition.
Tony Feria, an auto industry expert, says that it is absolutely true that Toyota makes strong vehicles, but there are many other companies that make such vehicles. These include Ford, General Motors and Chrysler. But their vehicles are not used by such organizations.
In response to this, many experts cite a report according to which Toyota first made its vehicles available to human welfare organizations such as the Red Cross and the United Nations.
In the last four decades, Toyota has provided around 150,000 vehicles to such organizations. Experts say that due to the involvement of Toyota's vehicles in such campaigns, this company was seen in developing countries by connecting it to the interests of the people.
According to experts, this was one of the major reasons why the rebel organizations started capitalizing on this image of Toyota in an attempt to connect directly with the people.
Others also say that due to the large number of Toyota vehicles available with human welfare organizations, it is relatively easy to steal them or obtain them through other unauthorized means. It can be said that the brand which became the identity of tourism in India has also become a symbol of terrorism in many parts of the world.