In a daring display of force, Yemen’s Houthi militia recently released a gripping video showcasing the hijacking of the Galaxy Leadership in the Red Sea. The footage, verified for its authenticity by The New York Times, provides a glimpse into the audacious maneuver executed by armed men descending from a military helicopter onto the vessel’s deck.
The motive behind this brazen act, as stated by the Houthi militia, was to express solidarity with the oppressed Palestinian populace. The gripping visuals from the video reveal a group of at least 10 armed individuals swiftly taking control of the ship’s bridge while cameras, seemingly attached to the hijackers’ heads, document the takeover process.
Notably, a segment of the footage captured from a distance showcases smaller boats, recognized as those used by Houthi rebels, maneuvering around the Galaxy Leader. The flags of Yemen’s Houthis and Palestine adorn these boats, echoing the proclaimed solidarity with the Palestinian cause.
Footage of Houthi forces hijacking the ship Galaxy Leader in the Red Sea yesterday.
Footage of Houthi forces hijacking the ship Galaxy Leader in the Red Sea yesterday. pic.twitter.com/PSFLpV4FLA
— OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) November 20, 2023
However, the whereabouts of the Galaxy Leader had been shrouded in mystery until the video’s release. Clues embedded within the footage hint at the timing and location of the hijacking. A clock displayed in the bridge footage indicates a time just past 1 p.m., while a navigational display reveals the vessel’s proximity to Yemen’s coastline. This evidence strongly suggests that the Houthi fighters seized control of the ship within close reach of Yemen’s coast rather than further north in the Red Sea.
An intriguing satellite image captured hours prior to the hijacking strengthens these findings. The image, analyzed by experts, depicts the Galaxy Leader navigating the Red Sea near Yemen’s Zubair islands, several hundred miles beyond its last known location. Samir Madani, co-founder of TankerTrackers.com, initially identified the ship in this critical image.
Before the hijacking, the Houthi militia had issued threats targeting Israeli-affiliated ships traversing the Red Sea. However, Israel’s military clarified that the Galaxy Leader was en route from Turkey to India, with an international crew devoid of Israelis. Despite being British-owned and managed by a Japanese company, the vessel’s beneficial ownership, as revealed by the Paradise Papers leak, had ties to Israeli billionaire Rami Ungar.
The hijacking of the Galaxy Leader stands as a stark reminder of the geopolitical tensions in the region and raises concerns about maritime security. The incident reflects the intersection of political motivations with maritime trade, prompting international attention and calls for heightened vigilance in these crucial waterways.
As the situation continues to unfold, the hijacking of the Galaxy Leader remains a pivotal event, underscoring the complexities and risks inherent in the Red Sea’s maritime landscape.
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