Update: ISIS Turned a Texan’s Truck Into a Terror Tank
According to CarFax, the truck is still listed as a “two-owner.”
It can be hard to say goodbye to a beloved vehicle. You hope, even as something loses its value in your life, that it may find a second home with a kindly owner receptive to its worn charms and musty interior. But most people sell old cars to dealers, who in turn put them up at auction—an owner has no control over his car’s fate. To hand over the keys with a smile can require a gritting of the teeth and stock in the belief that every retired racehorse ends up munching hay in the Kentucky hills, not in the interior of an Elmer’s bottle.
If you have particular preoccupations, maybe you cross your fingers tightly that you’re selling to a local, reputable dealer who would ensure the truck doesn’t end up in Syria, an anti-aircraft gun mounted in the bed and a few fighters sitting in the seats that bear the shape of your tush. Unfortunately for Mark Overholtzer of Texas City, the latter is exactly what happened to his Ford F-250—because some people have truly atrocious luck.
Almost a year ago, a photo posted by ISIS showed Mark’s truck, still emblazoned with his plumbing company’s name and contact information, with a hulking anti-aircraft gun being fired from the bed. Mark 1 Plumbing, unwillingly, had become plumbers to the world’s more reviled terrorist organization.
Mark hadn’t done any shady Ebay deals, or packed his truck into a shipping container marked Jihadi Use Only. Rather, he did what thousands of car owners do daily: trade in his old vehicle at a local dealership, AutoNation Ford Gulf Freeway. According to the New York Times, after signing the necessary paperwork, Mark Oberholtzer instructed his son to strip the truck of decals displaying his business’s name and phone number. The dealer stopped him, saying that amateur decal removal would damage the truck’s paint and that it would be done later, professionally.
That was never done. In 2013, the year of the sale, AutoNation Ford of Houston sold the truck at auction, at which point it was shipped to Turkey. From Mersin, Turkey, the Yankee-to-the-core pickup made its way to Syria. Once there, ISIS modified the truck’s bed to carry an anti-aircraft gun, turning it into a kind of homemade tank.
Since photos of the Mark 1 Plumbing Truck/ISIS Artillery Wagon made the news—and The Colbert Report—last December, Oberholtzer has been the object of thousands of harassing calls, many of which accuse him of abetting terrorism. His reputation, and business, have taken huge blows.
As such, Oberholtzer has filed a lawsuit against the dealership, alleging that in failing to remove his decals, it cost him over $1 million in lost business and emotional distress. The lawsuit says that both FBI and Department of Homeland Security agents advised Mark Oberholtzer to be vigilant. He now carries a gun.
Our advice? If your old car looks like it might fit an artillery gun, play it safe and scrape off any markings identifying you, your family or business. If your trade-in makes a cameo on Al-Jazeera, you’re going to want to have no idea.