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Friday, December 04, 2009

STOLEN VEHICLES BOLSTER TALIBAN IN AFGHANISTAN AND PAKISTAN WILL STIFLE SURGE, SMUGGLED TOYOTA PICK UP TRUCKS THE BACKBONE OF THE TALIBAN CAVALRY AND THE FBI HAS KNOWN SINCE 2001.


STOLEN VEHICLES BOLSTER TALIBAN IN AFGHANISTAN AND PAKISTAN WILL STIFLE SURGE, SMUGGLED TOYOTA PICK UP TRUCKS THE BACKBONE OF THE TALIBAN CAVALRY AND THE FBI HAS KNOWN SINCE 2001.


Mobility is a major factor in guerrilla warfare and Taliban fighters often operate as a 'pick-up truck cavalry' force in adapted four-wheel drive vehicles such as the Toyota Hi-Lux. Nicknamed 'Ahu' (the deer), these trucks are renowned for their sturdy design and reliability, and offer good manoeuvrability across harsh terrain.

They can carry about a dozen guerrillas armed with heavy machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, who fight either from the back of the moving truck, or dismount and adopt ground positions. Colonel Langton told the BBC: "The Toyota is not just a mainstay, they exist in large quantities across the country. They're a vehicle of convenience - they don't have to ride horses, camels or walk. And they go anywhere." (Toyota does not have a sales or distribution channel in Afghanistan, and does not export vehicles to that country TALIBAN TOYOTA TRUCK CAVALRY .") . More from this source BBC News......

One of the militants' main objectives is to squeeze the critical highway resupply route from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan that has assumed greater importance as the Pakistani border crossing grows more dangerous. This past spring, Mullah Mohammed Omar, the elusive one-eyed leader of the Taliban, was reported to have mobilized extra fighters to ramp up disruptions against northern transport convoys. Analysts say the Taliban strategy may also stir up tensions in the ethnically diverse region between the Tajik majority and the Pashtuns, who account for most of the militants.


The militants' main foothold is the Chahar Dara district, a Pashtun enclave just 18 miles west of Kunduz city. German troops based in the region are increasingly being targeted with roadside ambushes and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Seven members of the coalition forces have been killed in the region in the last two months. Improved technologies and coordination among the militants have led officials to think that al Qaeda has had a direct hand in the violence.


"The insurgents appear to be well-resourced (VEHICLES) - better trained and led than in the past, when efforts appeared ad hoc," said one Western aid official who spoke on the condition that he not be named to avoid jeopardizing his security. Locals, meanwhile, are forced to provide militants with food, shelter and money that may total as much as a quarter of their farming profits. Rolling checkpoints harass motorists on the outskirts of Kunduz city. As a result, they are under the de facto control of about 3,000 militants who often travel in convoys of (TOYOTA) pickup trucks. A 23-year-old district resident who gave his name as Farhad said the militants typically move in groups of 10 to 12 but have been appearing in his village almost daily and in larger numbers, MORE FROM THIS SOURCE.......

TALIBAN TOYOTA TRUCK CAVALRY The presence of these Toyota vehicles raises questions, given that Afghanistan has been subjected for EIGHT years OF one of the strictest economic sanctions ever applied by the United Nations and the US Government. Toyota's unease at being associated with the Taliban and Al Qaeda is evident In a statement, the company said, "Toyota does not have a sales or distribution channel in Afghanistan, and we do not export vehicles to that country." "Any other Toyota products presently in the country have probably arrived from neighboring countries via unofficial channels" - that is, they were smuggled from Dubai or Kuwait to Iran and Pakistan and into Afghanistan. It's all about the cars and trucks, supplied by Muslim car dealers in support of terrorism !

There is no army on earth as mobile as the Taliban. Piled into the back of hundreds of open Toyota Hilux pick-up trucks, their vehicle of choice, and carrying no possessions other than their weapons, the Taliban Cavalry can move nimbly.


NY Times Article, Trucks of the Taliban: Durable, Not Discreet, same deal in 2009 as in 2001, FBI has been aware of Stolen Car Scam for 8 years. The Taliban and technology were enemies from the start, as Afghanistan's former rulers sought to drag the country back across centuries to their own medieval, village-culture form of Islam. But four-wheel-drive trucks? That was something else. From their appearance as a ragtag village militia to their heyday as the puritanical masters of 90 percent of Afghanistan, and through to their helter-skelter flight last week from all but two cities, the Taliban had their own signature vehicles - and these seemed at odds with the rulers' theological commitment to a no-tech world.

Mullah Muhammad Omar, the Taliban's supreme leader, co-equal on America's most-wanted list with Osama bin Laden, is partial to Chevrolet Suburbans with darkened windows. Mr. bin Laden, like many of the sheiks and princes of Saudi Arabia among whom he grew up, likes Toyota Land Cruisers, as did his military commander, Muhammad Atef, a former Egyptian policeman who is believed to have been killed by American bombing.

There is a hierarchy of vehicles among the more important lieutenants of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, Mr. bin Laden's terrorist organization. Not for them anything discreet and durable, to go with the austerity of their faith: nothing but a Land Cruiser will serve. For ordinary fighters, men with long beards and longer barrels on their ubiquitous Kalashnikovs, the vehicle of choice is the Toyota Hilux, a compact pickup truck popular throughout the developing world.

Mullah Omar, a man so elusive that he has not been photographed in years, and has only granted one interview, was spotted in early October 2001 in his Suburban, a white vehicle with no outside embellishments. This was according to villagers outside the eastern city of Jalalabad, who reported seeing him stepping out of the vehicle, accompanied by Mr. bin Laden, in an area near an Al Qaeda training camp two days after the American bombing began on Oct. 7 2001.

Other extras visible on the tape, made earlier this year, were the smokestack-like air inductors running up the windshield pillars; Toyota distributes these on vehicles that operate mostly in the sand-choked air of desert regions. The Al Qaeda leaders' vehicles appeared to be free of the side-door graphics favored by many of their followers, whose tastes run to trucks in flame red or electric blue with words like "Rodeo" or "Pick Up" lettered on the sides, with fancy wheels and chromed roll bars.

The presence of these vehicles raises questions, given that the Taliban have been subjected for EIGHT years to one of the strictest economic sanctions ever applied by the United Nations. And Afghanistan is one of the world's poorest countries. How can thousands of men who produce nothing of economic value afford vehicles that cost $50,000 or, in the case of luxuriously equipped Land Cruisers, significantly more?

Part of the answer is that Afghanistan is the world's largest supplier of the raw opium that was processed into heroin, a traffic that earned hundreds of millions of dollars and, American investigators say, went partly to finance terrorism.


But very few of the mullahs' big, powerful vehicles had to be bought at all, at least not for anything like the sticker price. Most, according to the export licenses they bear, were acquired through an import-export scam that operated here in Pakistan.

Part of the evidence for this comes from the Toyota Motor Corporation in Japan, which issued a statement after images of the Taliban driving Land Cruisers began to appear on television after Sept. 11. Only one of the company's vehicles - a Land Cruiser, in 1997 - had been officially exported to Afghanistan in the previous five years, Toyota said. "Any other Toyota products presently in the country have probably arrived from neighboring countries via unofficial channels" - that is, they were smuggled.

Toyota's unease at being associated with the Taliban and Al Qaeda is evident. In its September statement, the company said, "Toyota does not have a sales or distribution channel in Afghanistan, and we do not export vehicles to that country."

Somewhat less laconic was Wade Hoyt, Toyota's spokesman in New York, who put the best corporate spin on the situation this week. "It is not our proudest product placement," he said. "But it shows that the Taliban are looking for the same qualities as any truck buyer: durability and reliability."

How the warriors of Islam came by their vehicles works like this: Corrupt importers in Pakistan order vehicles by the hundreds, mostly from distributors in Dubai or Kuwait, and register them for transit to Afghanistan. In practice, the vehicles "fall off the back" of transporters along the way, in provinces of Pakistan adjacent to the border. There, free of duty and tax, they are sold at a fraction of the official price.

In the case of the vehicles used by the Taliban and Al Qaeda, the purchasers of first record - or no record, since most of the vehicles have no registration papers - are often the madrassahs, or religious schools.

The clerics who run the madrassahs pass the vehicles on to their faith-brothers in Afghanistan. In some cases, according to Pakistani officials, who lose an estimated $1 billion a year in duties in such scams, the vehicles are stolen from the people who obtained them illegally in the first place.

As for why the Islamic warriors of Afghanistan have so favored Suburbans, Land Cruisers and Hiluxes, the answers are simple. Suburbans and Land Cruisers are comfortable, air-conditioned and reliable, and they have large fuel tanks, all qualities much sought-after in this harsh environment. Both vehicles, as well as the Hilux trucks, are good for carrying large numbers of people and weapons.

And the pickups provided ideal platforms for intimidation and enforcement. From their Land Cruisers and Hiluxes, the Taliban were ready to leap down and beat women for showing a glimpse of ankle or to lock a man in a shipping container for three weeks until his beard grew to the approved length. Or, most dismal, to drag an accused adulterer or blasphemer to the soccer stadium for execution, MORE FROM THIS SOURCE NY TIMES. .......