VIDEO: Houthis Hijack Cargo Ship, Raise Yemeni and Palestinian Flags

Houthis Yemen Israel Palestinians
Houthi Media Center via AP

The Iran-backed Houthi insurgents of Yemen on Monday released a video documenting their illegal seizure of a cargo ship in the Red Sea on Sunday.

The video shows at least ten Houthi troops armed with AK-47 rifles dropping onto the ship from a helicopter, overpowering the crew, and raising the Yemeni and Palestinian flags from the captured vessel.

The video was produced by Yemeni Military Media, the media wing of the Houthi terrorist organization, and was broadcast on the Houthi-controlled Al-Masirah television network. Much of the footage appears to have been taken with GoPro-style cameras worn on the heads of the soldiers, much as the terrorists of Hamas filmed their unspeakable atrocities against Israeli civilians on October 7.

One segment of the video included the ship’s clock and navigational displays on the bridge of the Galaxy Leader, confirming the ship was seized at roughly 1:00 pm on Sunday when it was close to the Yemeni coast.

Another segment showed a flotilla of small boats surrounding the massive cargo vessel, one of them flying the same Yemeni and Palestinian flags that the pirates later raised. Houthi forces often patrol the coast in similar small craft.

The company that owns the ship, Galaxy Maritime Ltd., said on Monday the Galaxy Leader is being held at Yemen’s port city of Hodeidah after it was “illegally boarded by military personnel via a helicopter.”

Galaxy Maritime said “all communications were subsequently lost with the vessel” after it was boarded.

“The company, as a shipping concern, will not be commenting further on the political or geopolitical situation,” the statement said.

Two other ships connected to the company that manages the Galaxy Leader, Ray Car Carriers, reportedly diverted from their routes on Sunday to avoid the waters near Yemen, where the Galaxy Leader was hijacked. Ship trackers said the expensive diversions would add several days to the sailing time for the massive vessels.

Galaxy Maritime refused to comment about the other two ships changing course, calling it a “political issue.” 

The Houthis on Sunday repeated their threat to attack civilian ships they believe are linked to Israel in some way. 

“The Yemeni armed forces reiterate their warning to all ships belonging to or dealing with the Israeli enemy that they will become a legitimate target for armed forces,” a Houthi spokesman said, warning companies to avoid doing business with Israel if they did not want to be targeted.

“Yemeni armed forces confirm that they will continue to carry out military operations against the Israeli enemy until the aggression against Gaza stops,” the spokesman added.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry denied Israel’s accusations that Tehran ordered or approved the hijacking of the Galaxy Leader. Iran is a longtime supporter of the Houthi insurgency and has considerable experience in hijacking foreign vessels.

“We have repeatedly announced that the resistance forces in the region represent their countries and make decisions based on the interests of their country and nation. They act spontaneously,” a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry insisted on Monday.

The Biden administration belatedly joined Japan and Israel in denouncing the hijacking on Monday afternoon. 

A reporter asked State Department spokesman Matthew Miller at a press briefing if the latest example of Houthi terrorism was giving the administration second thoughts about delisting the Houthis as terrorists, a surprising and controversial step President Joe Biden took as one of his first actions in office.

Miller said he had no “update” about the official status of the Houthis, but he said the seizure of the Galaxy Leader was “a flagrant violation of international law.”

“We demand the immediate release of the ship and its crew, and we will consult with our allies and U.N. partners, as appropriate, on next steps,” he said.

The Houthi name for their own movement is “Ansar Allah,” or “Army of Allah.” Like many of Iran’s proxy terrorist organizations and militias, they are practitioners of Shia Islam who claim their rebellion is an Islamic jihad. Their official slogan is “Allahu Akbar, Death to America, Death to Israel, a Curse on the Jews, Victory to Islam.” International media very rarely cite these details when discussing the Houthi insurgency.

There has been some uneasy grumbling about delisting the Houthis as terrorists from within the Biden administration after stories broke about Ansar Allah using child soldiers, attacking civilian targets in Saudi Arabia with drones and missiles, and blocking humanitarian aid to Christians in Yemen.

The Houthis have launched missiles and drones at civilian targets in Israel several times since Hamas launched the Gaza war on October 7. Most of the Houthi weapons have been intercepted by either Israeli air defenses or U.S. Navy ships in the Red Sea.


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