Isn't that your missing Bronco, Sarge?
October 3, 2005 6:40 PM   Subscribe

Are cars stolen in the US used in Iraq suicide attacks? The FBI's counterterrorism unit has launched an investigation of US-based theft rings after discovering some vehicles used in deadly car bombings in Iraq were probably stolen in the United States.
posted by soiled cowboy (31 comments total)
Wouldn't it be cheaper to steal cars locally? Or is this just an effort to have car thieves arrested under the prevention of terrorism act. It sounds idiotic.
posted by missbossy at 6:44 PM on October 3, 2005

Give them an inch and they'll take the whole country.
Expect jaywalking to be associated with terrorism eventually.
posted by nightchrome at 6:49 PM on October 3, 2005

Now wait a minute! You guys sound like terrorist apologists!
posted by Dareos at 7:01 PM on October 3, 2005

Bush Inc. will allege anything to improve the foreign balance of trade.
posted by mischief at 7:04 PM on October 3, 2005

They are using the same arguments with respect to piracy. Some money from the piracy of DVDs, etc. ends up in the hands of terrorists, therefore piracy = terrorism in their eyes. The argument is pretty flimsy, and yes, it is being used to give the FBI sweeping powers over everything.
posted by banished at 7:06 PM on October 3, 2005

Wait - so you guys are saying you don't want the the FBI to investigate stolen US cars ending up in the hands of foreign terrorists?
posted by loquax at 7:12 PM on October 3, 2005

This has to be bullshit. I've shipped cars abroad and back and it's a complete pain in the ass. Furthermore, the only big shipments going to the middle east from the U.S. these days are military.

If we're playing the Mike Walker game here, I win, this is the false story.
posted by snsranch at 7:16 PM on October 3, 2005

This is really strange. Stealing cars and then shipping them overseas? Is there a vehicle shortage in Iraq? If so, I could understand a theft ring in say, Eastern Europe, but from the U.S. is a bit too much to swallow.
posted by zardoz at 7:19 PM on October 3, 2005

> Furthermore, the only big shipments going to the middle east from the U.S. these days are military.

I'm just trying to picture a suicide bomber blowing himself up from inside a Humvee...
posted by NewBornHippy at 7:26 PM on October 3, 2005

The article explained that the intent is to use US cars to blend into the convoys and contractors. Charlie Savage contributed to the report and he knows his stuff. I doubt he'd be associated with it if it weren't plausible.
posted by Cassford at 7:27 PM on October 3, 2005

NBH, yea, they'll be stealing Hummers soon enough, insurgents always do that kind of stuff, the bastards! :)
posted by snsranch at 7:31 PM on October 3, 2005

Cassford, is it plausible? Hardly. Would they use American cars/trucks to fit in? Absolutely. Stolen and shipped from the U.S.?

Come on.
posted by snsranch at 7:39 PM on October 3, 2005

Well, those sneaky terrorists had just better be careful what kind of car they steal, then! (embedded QT video, poor taste)
posted by BoringPostcards at 7:50 PM on October 3, 2005

I can't tell if you're joking loquax.

I wasn't.

...or was I?
posted by loquax at 7:51 PM on October 3, 2005

the money from fencing the stolen cars, i could believe. With evidence. The cars themselves... jeez. i'm insulted.
posted by Miles Long at 7:53 PM on October 3, 2005

Stolen cars are shiped out of the USA, not one at a time by inexperienced hacks, but by the dozen through organized crime that operate as legitimate export businesses. Once they are overseas they are part of a blackmarket and can and do end up anywhere.
posted by stbalbach at 7:59 PM on October 3, 2005

That's just crazy talk, stbalbach. There's no organized crime in the US; that's a myth perpetuated by the conservatives to keep us down!
posted by keswick at 8:05 PM on October 3, 2005

Actually, a friend of mine was told by friends of his in the used car business, that there is a huge market with major markups for cars in Iran, which are then sent to Iraq. He was talking about mostly stuff like Toyota Land Cruisers, as it seems it was really tough to buy and sell cars under Saddam.

So I can say that it does seem plausible that cars can go from the US to Iraq. It seems much more likely that they go there for 'legitimate' reasons (normal car theft rings have probably way more members and incentives then terrorist car theft rings) and are then purchased by terrorists just as anyone would purchase them.
posted by cell divide at 8:06 PM on October 3, 2005

post-preview, what the St. said.
posted by cell divide at 8:06 PM on October 3, 2005

snsranch writes "I've shipped cars abroad and back and it's a complete pain in the ass"

Just to add to stbalbach comment above, privately shipping one car out of any country to any other country is indeed a major pain the ass. Now, if you're shipping hundreds of cars in ships under Liberia's banner, you're called an exporter and all kinds of doors suddenly open up. And ships can easily claim they are going one way and end up in a place completely different. As for using this method, exporting American stolen cars to for use in Iraq bombings, I'd say it would require far more sense of humor than any Islamic terrorist ever showed.
posted by nkyad at 8:12 PM on October 3, 2005

cell divide writes "as it seems it was really tough to buy and sell cars under Saddam."

After the embargo it was probably near impossible to buy or sell cars in Iraq, as they didn't had a massive car industry. Before the embargo (in the 80's) Saddam was building roads up and down the country and importing cars like there was no tomorrow (hehe). I would know that because different Brazilian companies were both major car exporters to Iraq and held massive construction contracts over there (which included supplying and shipping not only the necessary machines and materials but all work force).
posted by nkyad at 8:18 PM on October 3, 2005

Once they are overseas they are part of a blackmarket and can and do end up anywhere.

I think there's a real risk that my DNA will be found on money handled by terrorists... well my DNA and that of about a million other people who have happened to handle the same bills.

Did you know that we are all made from stardust?
posted by missbossy at 8:20 PM on October 3, 2005

This doesn't seem too implausible, but I don't think it's a case of Terrorists running around stealing cars in Compton.

1) American steals car, gives it to chop shop
2) chop shopper ships the car overseas. doesn't really care where it goes, just out of the states, where it could be recovered.
3) Terrorists buy used american car.

The end. Hardly some vast conspiracy.
posted by delmoi at 8:36 PM on October 3, 2005

b1tr0t: Ok, ok. BoringPostcards AND nkyad win, and I'm eating my hat already.

But seriously after I win the lotto, I'm moving! Really, to uh, Canada, or Italy or something, Really!!! Because this shouldn't be possible after 9/11 should it? Just like Katrina and Rita, and ..................................
posted by snsranch at 8:43 PM on October 3, 2005

nkyad, that's kind of what I was thinking, this is too ironic and backhandedly funny to be really true. Not that I doubt that some stolen cars are ending up in Iraq, that's plausible given the scenario's laid out above.

But I don't think its especially intentional that cars stolen in America are being used in suicide bombing attacks in Iraq. I'm sure cars that, among the cars stolen all over the world, some of them are going to eventually get to Iraq as well.
posted by fenriq at 8:52 PM on October 3, 2005

Jihad in sixty seconds!
posted by HTuttle at 10:19 PM on October 3, 2005

I can't imagine that even the exporters know who's going to wind up with the stolen vehicles. Sure, they know what port they're sending them to and what black-market merchant is going to accept the delivery but do you really think that a stolen-car dealer is going to ask for ID from a customer? Please.
Stolen cars from the US winding up in Iraq can't be anything but coincidence. I'm sure that plenty of stolen stuff winds up in all sorts of unusual places.

But it's certainly funny that they can find out where American cars wind up but they have no idea where all of those Iraqi explosives stolen at the beginning of the invasion (remember those?) wound up.
posted by Jon-o at 10:48 PM on October 3, 2005

I would be more inclined to believe that the money or even just the plates from stolen cars would find their way to Iraq. If thieves were shipping even dozens of cars over, it would probably raise a red flag with customs. It is kind of hard to disguise a shipment of used cars with something else.
posted by JJ86 at 12:51 AM on October 4, 2005

They're gonna want a blinged-out Escalade to impress those 72 virgins apparently
posted by ElvisJesus at 5:19 AM on October 4, 2005

Well, that's one way to alleviate the US trade imbalance.
posted by alumshubby at 5:31 AM on October 4, 2005

There was a story in The Wall Street Journal (I think it was in 2003 or 2004) about how there has long been a booming business for people who ship used cars from Japan (where maintenence and environmental regulations are so stringent that many Japanese consumers find it easier to buy a new car every few years rather than keep the old ones up to standard) to other Arab countries (UAE is one of the favorite transhipment points) to be sold in Iraq. This explains why you see so many Nissan pickup trucks in footage from Iraq. If Japanese cars made for the Japanese market and driven in Japan predominate in Iraq, cars stolen from the streets of America would be a hard sell indeed: cars driven in Japan have the steering wheel on the LEFT side of the vehicle like in England, not on the RIGHT side like in the US. So, is the story a lie? Possible. But it's also possible that the Wall Street Journal is lying. The Wall Street Journal (knowingly or unknowingly) spread deliberate disinformation at the behest of the US government during the war.
posted by bunky at 10:02 PM on October 13, 2005

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