New details on what befell US diplomats

17th Sept 2017
THE bizarre attacks come out of nowhere and leave victims with lasting injuries. But no-one can explain what’s going on or why the victims are being hit.

US President Barack Obama became the first sitting president to visit Cuba in 88 years when he arrived in Havana on Sunday, March 20. Obama emerged from the plane with first lady Michelle Obama and their daughters Sasha and Malia following behind them.

The Obamas were greeted by a small Cuban delegation before climbing into their car that would take them to their next event. The president is scheduled to attend a meet and greet at the US Embassy before a sightseeing tour in Old Havana, which will include a visit to Cathedral de San Cristobal de la Habana. Obama is to visit the Palace of the Revolution and meet Raul Castro on Monday, and a state dinner is scheduled for the evening.

Obama will visit dissident leaders on Tuesday before taking in an exhibition baseball game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national team. He then leaves for Argentina in the evening. One thing Obama will not do during his visit is see Fidel Castro, Cuba’s former leader for many years since the 1959 revolution. The Obama trip to Cuba is the latest step in normalization of relations between the two countries since December 2014. Among the changes are that the US re-established its embassy in Havana and opened travel for Americans to Cuba. Mail was also re-established between the US and Cuba this week. Credit: YouTube/Cuban Foreign Ministry

UNITED States diplomats are sustaining curious brain injuries while posted in Cuba and the US government can’t figure out exactly what’s behind the astonishing international mystery.

The attacks allegedly began in late 2016 and were initially thought to perhaps be inflicted by some sort of unknown targeted sonic weapon.

The affected diplomats have sustained permanent damage to their hearing, mild traumatic brain injuries, and possibly even damage to their central nervous system.

The mystery over the bizarre situation only continues to deepen with baffled US officials claiming the facts and the physics don’t add up.

This week, the Associated Press spoke with a number of US and Cuba personnel with insight into the investigation around the alleged attacks and the revelations only make everything seem weirder.

At least some of the curious incidents were confined to specific rooms or even parts of rooms with laser-like specificity, the report said, detailing the experience of one US diplomat who was targeted by the unknown weapon.

“The blaring, grinding noise jolted the American diplomat from his bed in a Havana hotel. He moved just a few feet, and there was silence. He climbed back into bed. Inexplicably, the agonising sound hit him again. It was as if he’d walked through some invisible wall cutting straight through his room,” the AP reported.

Pretty soon, the diplomat was exhibiting speech problems and hearing loss. So far there have been 21 further victims reporting similar symptoms, including problems concentrating and recalling certain words.

The attacks seem to come at night and are delivered in short bursts.

The lobby of the Hotel Capri in Havana, Cuba. Picture: Desmond BoylanSource:AP


Cuba has a storeyed history with its powerful neighbour to the North. Cuba’s capital city Havana lies just 144 kilometres south of Florida’s island city of Key West.

The United States and Cuba restored diplomatic relations in July 2015, which had been severed in 1961 during the height of the Cold War. However the US continues to maintain its commercial, economic, and financial embargo with the country which makes it illegal for US corporations to do business with Cuba.

Fulton Armstrong, a former CIA official who served in Havana long before America reopened an embassy there is mystified by the spate of curious ailments befalling US diplomats in the country.

“None of this has a reasonable explanation,” he said. “It’s just mystery after mystery after mystery.”

Suspicion initially focused on a sonic weapon however the diagnosis of mild brain injury is considered unlikely to result from sound.

The Trump administration still hasn’t identified a culprit or a device to explain the injuries. So far it continues to confound the FBI, the State Department and US intelligence agencies involved in the investigation.

Muddying the waters further is the fact that a handful of Canadian diplomatic houses in Cuba were also affected and unlike the US, Canada has maintained friendly relations with the island state for decades.

The US investigators have explored a range of theories around who’s behind the whole thing. They range from attacks perpetrated by a rogue faction of Cuba’s intelligence services, or with the help of a third party country like Russia, to far less nefarious explanations such as the possibility of an advanced espionage operation gone horribly wrong.


The personal accounts of victims, as well as their resulting injuries, vary.

Some felt vibrations, and heard sounds — loud ringing or a high-pitch chirping similar to crickets or cicadas. Others heard the grinding noise. Some victims woke with ringing in their ears and fumbled for their alarm clocks, only to discover the ringing stopped when they moved away from their beds, the AP reported.

Yet others heard nothing, and felt nothing only to have symptoms appear later.

Sound and health experts are just as baffled as investigators. Targeted, localised beams of sound are possible, but the laws of acoustics suggest such a device would probably be quite large and not easily concealed. And no single, sonic gadget seems to explain such an odd, inconsistent array of physical responses.

“Brain damage and concussions, it’s not possible,” said Joseph Pompei, a former MIT researcher and psychoacoustics expert. “Somebody would have to submerge their head into a pool lined with very powerful ultrasound transducers.”



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