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Toyota pickup trucks, in particular the Hilux and Land Cruiser brands, have long been a favourite of jihadist groups operating in rugged terrain from the hills of Afghanistan to the Syrian and Iraqi deserts.
The vehicles are often seen in jihadist propaganda videos, complete with high-calibre weapons bolted onto the truck beds.
According to a CNN report this week, the US Treasury's Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, which monitors transfers and the flow of goods, officially asked Toyota how Islamic State group militants had got their hands on so many shiny new pickup trucks.
"We are committed to complying fully with the laws and regulations of each country or region where we operate, and require our dealers and distributors to do the same," the company responded in a statement.
"We are supporting the US Treasury Department’s broader inquiry into international supply chains and the flow of capital and goods in the Middle East."
Toyota, which added that it was cooperating with the Treasury’s investigation, insisted that it maintained "a strict policy not to sell vehicles to potential purchasers who may use or modify them for paramilitary or terrorist activities”.
But while there are procedures in place to stop the vehicles from falling into the wrong hands, the company said that it was impossible for it to control the channels through which its vehicles can be misappropriated, stolen or resold by third parties.
“Regrettably, the Toyota Land Cruiser and Hilux have effectively become almost part of the ISIS brand,” said Mark Wallace, a former US ambassador to the United Nations, in comments to ABC news. Wallace is the CEO of the Counter Extremism Project, an NGO that seeks to expose the financial support networks of terror groups.
The sales chain for Toyota vehicles finding their way into IS group hands is most likely through Iraq, thanks to as-yet-unidentified dealers, the country’s ambassador to the United States, Lukman Faily, told ABC news.
“This is a question we’ve been asking our neighbours,” Faily said. “How could these brand-new trucks ... these four-wheel drives, hundreds of them – where are they coming from?”
Toyota pickup trucks are favoured by Islamists for a number of reasons, not least for the fact that they are not American made.
Above all they have proved themselves to be solid and durable vehicles capable of taking the worst kind of punishment, as demonstrated in an episode of the BBC’s hit “Top Gear” series, which dedicated an entire episode in 2011 to stress testing a Hilux (see video below).
During the broadcast, Top Gear’s then presenter Jeremy Clarkson subjected a second-hand Hilux to collisions with walls and trees, left it on a beach to be swallowed by an aggressive incoming tide, smashed it with a wrecking ball and finally set it on fire. Nothing could stop the mechanics from getting it rolling again.
PARIS, OCTOBER 13, 2016: (DGW) Reports coming in say, Bob Dylan , the American songwriter has won the 2016 Nobel Price for Literature after a keen contest with 3 others from three other countries.
Confirming this Sara Danils, permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, describes Dylan as “A great sampler … and for 54 years he has been at it, reinventing himself.”
Speaking further, she said... “An extraordinary example of his brilliant way of rhyming. putting together refrains, and his brilliant way of thinking.”
“Dylan has the status of an icon. His influence on contemporary music is profound,” it wrote in biographical notes about the famously private singer.
Last year, the prize went to Belarussian author Svetlana Alexievich, for her documentary-style narratives based on witness testimonies.
Dylan will take home the eight million kronor ($906,000 or 822,000 euros) prize sum.
The Nobel is the latest accolade for a singer who has come a long way from his humble beginnings as Robert Allen Zimmerman, born in 1941 in Duluth, Minnesota, who taught himself to play the harmonica, guitar and piano.
Captivated by the music of folksinger Woody Guthrie, Zimmerman changed his name to Bob Dylan — reportedly after the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas — and began performing in local nightclubs.
After dropping out of college he moved to New York in 1960. His first album contained only two original songs, but the 1963 breakthrough “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan” featured a slew of his own work including the classic “Blowin’ in the Wind.”
The Navy is now finalizing the weapons, sensors and technologies it plans to engineer into a new, more survivable and lethal Littoral Combat Ship variant designed to perform anti-submarine and surface warfare functions at the same time, service officials said.
“You will be able to employ both of those mission areas simultaneously,” Capt. Dan Brintzinghoffer, Frigate Program Manager, told Scout Warrior in an interview. “This provides the fleet with flexibility because you can employ those ships in multiple ways and multiple venues.”
The new ship, called a Frigate, will be integrated with anti-submarine surface warfare technologies including sonar, an over-the-horizon missile and surface-to-surface weapons such as a 30mm gun and closer-in missiles such as the Hellfire,
“You will be able to have both the long range over-the-horizon missile and the Hellfire on board at the same time,” Brintzinghoffer said.
Some of the over-the-horizon missiles now being considered by the Navy include the Naval Strike Missile by Kongsberg, a modified Tomahawk missile or the Long-Range Anti-Ship missile, or LRASM made by Lockheed and the Pentagon's research arm, DARPA. It is not yet known whether the Frigate will be engineered with Vertical Launch Systems to fire larger, longer-range missiles such as a Tomahawk or Standard Missile 6, among others. However, that could be a possibility depending upon emerging Navy requirements for weapons on the ship, developers have said.
The Frigate is slated for delivery to the Navy by 2023; the platform is an outgrowth of the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship effort which originally planned to build 52 shallow-water multi-mission ships equipped with interchangeable groups of technologies called “mission packages” for mine countermeasures, anti-submarine technologies and surface warfare systems.
However, lawmakers, analysts and some members of the Navy argued that the LCS was not “survivable” enough, meaning despite its speed of 40-knots and numerous advantages, the ship would be far too vulnerable to enemy attack. The concern, ultimately echoed by then Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, was that the ship did not have enough weapons, armor fortifications and what’s called “blue water” combat capability to challenge near-peer adversaries.
“LCS as designed is a focused mission ship. It can do one specific mission at a time and the combat capability to do that mission is provided by the mission packages,” he added. “We are going to take a modified LCS and take that as the baseline and then add changes or modifications to improve its lethality and survivability.”
The new ship will also have seven 11-meter Rigid Inflatable Boats for short combat or expeditionary missions such as visiting, searching and boarding other ships.
At the same time the anti-submarine technologies planned for the ship include a multi-function towed array sonar, variable depth sonar to detect submarines and sensors combined with a submarine hunting MH-60R helicopter.
While the LCS, which is currently in service with the Navy, is credited for its speed, maneuverability and shallow draft which enables it to access shallow water ports larger ships are unable to reach. The LCS ships in service this far have performed quite well, Navy officials explained. Six LCS vessels are currently in service, a spokesman for Naval Sea Systems Command told Scout Warrior.
The initiative to engineer a more survivable and lethal LCS variant emerged out of a multi-month effort directed by Secretary Hagel and the formation of an entity called the Small Surface Combatant Task Force.
“The Secretary of Defense directed the Navy to stop building LCS at 32 ship and do a study or come up with alternatives to see what the remaining 20 need to be to meet the small surface combatant requirement. The Navy put together a task force and built a series of options and a methodology around which they were able to do an assessment of alternatives,” Brintzinghoffer explained.
The exact configuration of many of the weapons systems, which will be complemented by next-generation computing technology, sensors and communications gear, is still being determined.
“For the last seven months we have laid out a series of design cycles and come up with proposed changes and alternatives to improve survivability and lethality. We have come through a number of those and we are now recommending to the Navy leadership a design that provides a capability to the fleet,” Brintzinghoffer explained.
The emerging Frigate ship will also be equipped with next-generation and stronger electronic warfare technologies far greater than the existing LCS and instead comparable to current Navy Cruisers and Destroyers, he added.
In addition, the ship will be configured in what’s called a “modular” fashion, meaning it will be engineered to accept and integrate new technologies and weapons as they emerge such as lasers and rail guns, Brintzinghoffer added.
“Technology over the next six to seven years will enable us to use some sort of a laser weapon or rail gun. As technology improves and we can have a different type of gun, the Navy will have that option with an understood set of interfaces and standards of space, weight and power,” he said.
With its mission packages, the LCS is configured to perform specific missions, one mission at a time, Brintzinghoffer said. The Frigate is being engineered to meet anti-submarine and surface warfare missions at the same time.
Another potential area of innovation designed to improve protection for the new Frigate is the use of “space armor” techniques.
PARIS, APRIL 14, 2017: (DGW) US Secretary of Defense James Mattis amid tensions of another possible test by North Korea has made its position very clear on another repeated provocation.
According to him, "The bottom line is North Korea has got to change its behavior," Mattis warned at the Pentagon Thursday.
Amid the growing tension, a US Navy carrier strike group is reportedly heading towards the Korean peninsula in preparation for a possible North Korean provocation while the US and its allies cautiously watch the situation.
Mattis has repeatedly stated his opposition to North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
"Right now, [North Korea] appears to be going in a very reckless manner … and that has got to be stopped," Mattis explained at a press conference in London last month. During his first trip to Asia as secretary of defense in February, Mattis stated that the US will protect its allies and partners in the region against North Korea.
"North Korea continues to launch missiles, develop its nuclear weapons program, and engage in threatening rhetoric and behavior," the secretary of defense said, adding, "America’s commitments to defending our allies and to upholding our extended deterrence guarantees remain ironclad. Any attack on the United States, or our allies, will be defeated, and any use of nuclear weapons would be met with a response that would be effective and overwhelming."
PARIS, DECEMBER 14, 2015: Irked by the killing of 38 disabled children in Libya on Monday President Obama of the United States has declared a full-scale war on the Islamic State militants. A visibly angry Obama made the declaration after extensive consultations in the briefing room with senior Pentagon officials.
Speaking further, the President said the time has come for a decisive action to rid the world of the vermin. He charged the senior Pentagon officials to map out a strategy as a matter of urgency to combat the IS militants on all fronts adding that some key IS leaders have been killed in US combat operations.
Said Obama in a statement, “Hunting down and taking out these terrorists, training and equipping Iraqi and Syrian forces to fight ISIL on the ground, stopping ISIL’s operations by disrupting the recruiting, financing and propaganda, and finally persistent diplomacy to end the Syrian Civil War so everyone can focus on destroying ISIL,” Obama said.
He charged the US coalition partners in the region to do more to rid the menace the IS group poses to society.
Michael Sandford pleaded guilty for being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm and disrupting an official function
A British man has been sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison over his attempt to grab a gun in a bid to kill Donald Trump.
Michael Sandford, 20, pleaded guilty in September to being an illegal alien in possession of a firearm and disrupting an official function.
He was accused of grabbing a policeman’s gun at a rally in Las Vegas in order to shoot at the candidate.
His mother says “he is remorseful over what he did”.
Sandford, of Dorking, Surrey, had faced up to 10 years in prison over the alleged assassination plot.
The court heard that he could be eligible for release in four months’ time, at which point he will be deported to the UK.
The defence team said their client is autistic and suffers seizures and obsession-compulsion anxiety.
After Sandford was arrested, he told officers he had planned to shoot the billionaire Republican candidate.
He failed to pull the weapon from an officer’s holster, the court heard.
His mother said that she had lost contact with her son after he left home to travel around the US in 2015.
He had previously shown no interest in politics, and she was unable to explain why he would want to shoot Mr Trump.
According to court documents, Sandford, who was homeless and living in the US illegally having overstayed his visa, told the Secret Service that he had driven from California to Nevada with the goal of shooting Mr Trump.
The papers detail how he had been plotting the attack for around a year and had gone to a gun range in Las Vegas the day before the attack to learn how to shoot, firing 20 rounds from a 9mm Glock pistol.
He reportedly told an officer that he had expected to die in the attack but that he also had tickets for a later Trump rally in Arizona in case he needed a second chance.
Judge James C Mahan described the incident as “a crazy stunt”.
“You have a medical problem,” the judge told Sandford, adding that it is “nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about.”
“I don’t see you as evil or a sociopath,” the judge said, wishing Sandford luck as he rose to leave the courtroom.