US-Cuba ties on downswing due to bizarre health injuries at embassy

Sunilchandra Dal
Saturday, 21 October 2017

Mystery
US embassy employees based in Havana have suffered mysterious injuries. American scientists are investigating the injuries, but are as yet unable to pinpoint the cause, whether the injuries were intentionally inflicted by some group and if so, by whom. 

The United States recently pulled out most of its employees and their families from its embassy in Havana, Cuba. The US also issued a notice warning its citizens against travelling to Cuba. Former President Barack Obama reopened relations with Cuba in 2015 after 56 years of sanctions. 

In June 2017, US President Donald Trump vowed to roll back parts of what he called Obama’s ‘terrible and misguided’ Cuba policy. However, Trump has not played any role in the latest development. Though experts are in the dark, there is speculation that a rogue group of Cuban intelligence or an agency of a third country may be trying to sabotage US-Cuba 
relations. 

US embassy employees based in Havana have suffered mysterious injuries. American scientists are investigating the injuries, but are as yet unable to pinpoint the cause, whether the injuries were intentionally inflicted by some group and if so, by whom.

Foreign Policy quoted a senior State Department official as saying that the ‘targeted attacks’ affected 21 people, and at least some of the attacks occurred in hotels. Because they are unable to identify the source of the attacks, they believe US citizens may be at risk and have warned them not to travel to Cuba, said the official.

Of the 21 victims, some have permanent hearing loss or concussions. Some complained of nausea, headaches and ringing in the ear. Some are unable to concentrate and have difficulty recalling common words, according to the Associated Press. Some victims reported vibrations or loud sounds audible only in parts of rooms. Some victims did not hear anything, but yet developed symptoms.

The top theory under scrutiny is that the embassy officials were attacked with a sonic weapon that sends sound waves to attack the target, without leaving any trace of the origin or direction of the attack. 

Cuban President Raúl Castro has steadfastly denied any Cuban involvement in the incidents and US officials have acknowledged cooperation by Cuba in the investigations.
According to Fox News, there is speculation that infrasound (a low-frequency sound below the human hearing range) or ultrasound (above 20 KHz and cannot be heard by humans), may have been used in the attacks. 

Experts told Fox News that devices using either spectrum could cause hearing damage, but using today’s technology, it is difficult to focus infrasonic waves as needed by a weapon. They said ultrasound could be directed at the victim’s head, but the attack would have to be precise as the victim would be inside the building.

Not for the first time
According to journalist and author Sharon Weinberger, this isn’t the first time the US government suspected a foreign country of targeting its diplomats with an invisible weapon. In her book, ‘The Imagineers of War: The Untold Story of DARPA, the Pentagon Agency That Changed the World’, she describes how in 1965, US officials found that their embassy in Moscow was being bombarded with low-level microwaves. 

Weinberger says the CIA believed that the USSR could be trying to influence the behaviour or mental state of US diplomats. The Defense Advanced Research Projects (DARPA), a division of the Pentagon, was assigned to study the issue. 
After spending millions of dollars, it was concluded that the USSR was using the radiation to activate listening bugs concealed in the embassy’s walls, and not to control diplomats’ minds. 

Weinberger says the government found that the best solution was to build an aluminium screen to shield the building from microwaves. 

Mystery
US embassy employees based in Havana have suffered mysterious injuries. American scientists are investigating the injuries, but are as yet unable to pinpoint the cause, whether the injuries were intentionally inflicted by some group and if so, by whom. 

Foreign Policy quoted a senior State Department official as saying that the ‘targeted attacks’ affected 21 people, and at least some of the attacks occurred in hotels. Because they are unable to identify the source of the attacks. 

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