Jason Hopkins, DCNF
The Department of State is entertaining the idea that microwave attacks were behind the mysterious illnesses that plagued diplomats working in the U.S. embassy in Havana, Cuba.
Beginning in late 2016, more than three dozen U.S. diplomats and family members living in Cuba and China reported puzzling brain ailments such as dizziness, headaches and blurry vision. Some diplomats described moments where they heard loud ringing and buzzing sounds. For months, the State Department considered the mysterious incidents to possibly be the result of “sonic attacks.”
Not only do federal investigators have yet to determine what devices were used against American officials, but they are still unaware who was behind them.
However, in a chilling development, doctors and scientists involved the investigation now consider microwave attacks to be main suspect.
“Everybody was relatively skeptical at first,” Dr. Douglas Smith, the lead author of a study into the victims’ ailments, stated to The New York Times. “[But] everyone now agrees there’s something there.” Smith is increasingly positive the diplomats sustained brain injuries.
Initially, experts believed the diplomats’ description of ringing, buzzing and other loud noises were symptoms of a sonic attack. A secretive organization of top scientists that helps the federal government access threats, referred to as “Jason,” is considering several possible explanations — one of them being microwaves.
There are personal accounts that support a microwave attack theory. The spouse of one embassy staffer, after hearing the strange sounds, looked outside her home and reportedly saw a van speeding away. A small van could potentially carry a dish antenna, beaming microwaves at a target.
Involved in the developing investigation is Allan Frey, an American scientist who determined in 1960 that microwaves can deceive the brain into thinking it hears ordinary sounds. This discovery lead to what is now known as the “Frey effect.” The 83-year-old scientist told TheNYT that he suspects Cubans, possibly aligned with Russia, orchestrated microwave attacks in order to scuttle growing relations between the Washington, D.C., and Havana.
“It’s a possibility,” Frey stated. “In dictatorships, you often have factions that think nothing of going against the general policy if it suits their needs. I think that’s a perfectly viable explanation.”
While the Cuban government denied any involvement with the attacks, relations between the two countries have undoubtedly been affected. The Trump administration — after telling Cuba it has a responsibility to protect American officials residing in its country — ordered about half its diplomatic personnel back in September 2017. Currently, the U.S. embassy sits completely abandoned.
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