Yemen’s Houthi militia Released a video It released footage on Monday of its forces seizing the vessel Galaxy Leader. A day earlier, it had announced that it had taken the vessel from the Red Sea in a gesture of support to “the oppressed Palestinian people.”
The New York Times confirmed the authenticity of this video. The video shows at least 10 men armed on the 600-foot long vessel’s deck after a military helicopter hovering over it dropped out.
Most of the video appears to come from cameras attached to men’s heads, and follows them as they seize control of the bridge from crew members. A later section of the video, taken from a distance, shows a handful of small boats — of a type known to be used by Houthi rebels — moving around and alongside the ship. One of the flags is a Yemeni one, used by the Houthis. Another flag is a Palestinian one. By this time the Galaxy Leader has also been flying these flags.
Since Saturday, the location of the Galaxy Leader is unknown. The last signal received showed that it was in the Red Sea between Saudi Arabian and Sudan. The new video offers clues to the time and place of the hijacking.
A clock on the wall of the Galaxy Leader’s bridge in the video shows a time of just after 1 p.m. Additionally, a navigational computer display shows the ship had traveled almost three quarters of the way down Yemen’s coast. The evidence suggests that Houthi fighters took over the vessel when it was within quick and easy striking distance of Yemen’s coast, rather than farther north in the middle of the Red Sea.
A Times analysis of a satellite image captured on Sunday morning local time — hours before the time shown on the bridge clock — offers further evidence that the Galaxy Leader had traveled several hundred miles beyond its last known location. The image shows a ship with the same visual characteristics and dimensions as the Galaxy Leader transiting the Red Sea, near the Zubair Group of Yemeni Islands. Satellite image likely taken just hours before hijacking. Samir Madani co-founder and global shipping monitor TankerTrackers.com first noticed the ship on the satellite image.
The Houthi militia threatened, hours before the hijacking of the ship, to target Israeli flagged, owned, and operated ships crossing the Red Sea. Israel’s military said the ship was en route to India from Turkey and had an “international crew, without Israelis.” The vessel, listed as a car carrier, is British owned, and is operated by a Japanese corporation.
The company’s beneficial owner — meaning the person who exercises control over it, owns more than a quarter of it or receives substantial economic benefit from it — appears to have at some point been an Israeli billionaire, Rami Ungar, according to the Paradise Papers, a major leak of confidential documents that in 2017 exposed a hidden world of wealth and ownership.