Texas City, Texas (CBS HOUSTON) — A Texas plumber has been receiving endless calls and even threats after his Ford F-250 truck – featuring decals of his “Mark-1 Plumbing” company –showed up in a photo being driven by Islamic State militants in Syria.[tweet https://twitter.com/erinmcunningham/status/545497899124412416 width=’330′]
Mark Oberholtzer, who has owned and operated his Mark-1 Plumbing company in Texas City for over three decades, confirmed to CBS News that his pickup truck had indeed found its way to the front lines of Syria’s civil war and been converted into an anti-aircraft vehicle. The photo surfaced on Monday after the Ansar al-Deen Front of ISIS militants posted it to Twitter with a man standing in the bed firing the anti-aircraft weapon.
Oberholtzer told CBS News that he no longer owned the vehicle and has no idea how it ended up in Syria with the Islamic State militants.
Oberholtzer said the vehicle was sold to the AutoNation dealership in Houston on October 2013, and that was the last he’d seen of the truck. The photo clearly shows that both the company name and phone number are still in decals on the side of the vehicle. He told the Galveston Daily that he typically takes the decals off of vehicles being sold, but he left it on with the expectation that AutoNation would remove the company information.
“They were supposed to have done it and it looks like they didn’t do it,” Oberholtzer told the Galveston Daily News. “How it ended up in Syria, I’ll never know.”
A spokesman for the AutoNation dealership told KHOU-TV that the truck immediately went to auction, and from there was likely traded to several owners before apparently ending up in the hands of Islamic terrorists on the other side of the world.
By Tuesday, Oberholtzer said the company had received thousands of calls and faxes about the Twitter image from the ISIS militants – many of whom were accusing him of “aiding and abetting terrorists.”
“A few of the people are really ugly,” he told KHOU-TV. “We had no intentions or no idea that this would even happen.”
“To think something we would use to pull trailers, now is being used for terror, it’s crazy. Never in my lifetime would think something like that,” said Oberholtzer. “We have a secretary here, she’s scared to death. We all have families. We don’t want no problems.”
Oberholtzer says he hopes the ordeal won’t hurt business and that the company has “nothing to do with terror at all.”