Sonic weapon used to attack U.S. diplomats in Cuba?

SONICWEAPONS ''CUBA'' EN LEES OOK Vreemde kwalen Amerikanen op Cuba na 'akoestische aanval'

 

 
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Those Mysterious Sonic Weapon Attacks In Cuba Just Got A Whole Lot Stranger

 
 

As reported a couple of weeks back, sonic weapons appear to have been used on both American and Canadian diplomats in Cuba. Although precisely who is using them – and what the devices consist of – remain unclear at present, the symptoms of the diplomats are always the same: extreme headaches, hearing loss, and nausea.

At the time, it appeared that just a handful of diplomats had been affected, but as reported by CNN, over 10 American envoys and family members are receiving medical treatment after months of sonic attacks. Several anonymous government sources have also told the network that two diplomats have long-term injuries and are unable to return to Havana; others have opted to leave their assignments early.

At the same time, five Canadian envoys and their own family members have also fallen ill. At the time of writing, there is no diagnosis of any sort of disease, and the idea of a sonic weapon – which is real, by the way, not just hypothesized – keeps coming up.

Details remain scant, but it appears that the devices are being used exclusively within Cuban government-owned properties, and that the attacks have been going on for longer than previously acknowledged. Intriguingly, it also appears that there have been at least two types of sonic weapon deployed in the Cuban capital city.

Even the precise weapons being used remains a bit of a mystery. Delpixel/Shutterstock

As we explained in a previous article, the first type appears to be silent – at least to human hearing. This could mean that the weapon being used employs microwaves, which, at certain frequencies, rapidly heats brain tissue and generates a “shockwave”, which ends up vibrating the inner ear at dangerous levels.

Alternatively, infrasound could be used. This low-frequency noise – again beyond the range of human hearing – causes fatigue, apathy, hearing loss, confusion, disorientation, and nausea, according to the US National Institutes of Health (NIH).

CNN also reports that some of the attacks are accompanied by an audible noise, a “deafeningly loud sound similar to the buzzing created by insects or metal scraping across a floor.”

As before, the origin point of the noise remained elusive, but it’s been noted that these attacks have been known to occur at night when the diplomats were sleeping.

At present, much remains a mystery, at least to the general public. The US and Cuban diplomatic services have been discussing the issue both publically and privately, the FBI and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are in Havana to investigate, and a few Cuban diplomats have been expelled from Washington DC during the furor – but other than that, what’s actually going on is anyone’s guess.

Akoestische aanval op Cuba

 

Akoestische aanval op Cuba 'is wat ongeloofwaardig'

VRIJDAG, 20:29
ZUMA PRESS / HOLLANDSE HOOGTE
GESCHREVEN DOOR
Paulus Houthuijs
redacteur Online
 

Ernstig zieke Amerikaanse diplomaten op Cuba, mogelijk door aanhoudende bestokingen met onhoorbare geluidsgolven. "Het klinkt Hollywood-achtig", zegt neuropsycholoog en gehoorschadespecialist Olav Wagenaar. "Maar theoretisch gezien is het mogelijk."

Het enige dat nu vaststaat, is dat de zestien ambassademedewerkers naar eigen zeggen kampen met onverklaarbare gezondheidsproblemen. Zoals: gehoorverlies, hoofdpijn, misselijkheid en licht hersenletsel. Dat kan volgens Wagenaar veroorzaakt zijn door infrasone trillingen, geluid waarvan de frequenties zo laag zijn, dat een mens het niet kan horen.

Oren dicht helpt niet

"Je voelt zulke trillingen gelijk in je botten, dus het maakt niet uit of je je oren dichtdoet." Blijvende klachten lijken de neuropsycholoog in dit soort situaties onwaarschijnlijk. De nadelige effecten zouden gelijk verdwijnen zodra je uit bereik van het signaal bent.

En toch hebben volgens Amerikaanse media twee mensen blijvende gehoorschade. Ook wordt een aantal van de zieken in Amerika behandeld, wat erop wijst dat de symptomen nog niet zijn verdwenen. Dat maakt de optie van een infrasone aanval volgens Wagenaar "wat ongeloofwaardig".

Maar, benadrukt Wagenaar, de wapenindustrie is misschien al wel een stuk verder dan we denken.

Volgens defensiedeskundige Ko Colijn van Instituut Clingendael is het lastig te zeggen. Audiobewapening is volgens hem geen hot topic meer. "Een jaar of tien geleden waren al die wonderwapens van trillingen en ultrasoon geluid enorm modieus. Allemaal wapens waar je uiteindelijk niets meer van hoort."

Twee voorbeelden:

Kolijn geeft een voorbeeld van zo'n futuristische creatie: het Active Denial System van de VS, ook wel het 'magnetronwapen' genoemd. Een straal van elektromagnetische golven verhoogt de lichaamstemperatuur van slachtoffers tot rond de vijftig graden.

Het doel is vijanden tot dekking te dwingen of weg te jagen, zonder ze te doden. "Het is ondraaglijk, alsof je een snikhete ovendeur opent", beschreef een Britse journalist de ervaring tijdens een test.

Een ander voorbeeld is het geluidskanon LRAD (Long Range Acoustic Device). Het produceert een hels kabaal en kan blijvende gehoorschade aanrichten op een afstand van 300 meter, schreef de BBC in 2005.

LRAD is onder meer gebruikt om piraten in Somalische wateren weg te jagen bij vrachtschepen. Ook tijdens de G20-top van 2009 in Pittsburgh werd het geluidskanon ingezet tegen demonstranten.

Het oorverdovend gepiep van de LRAD

In ruim zeventig landen is LRAD in gebruik, schrijft nieuwswebsite TIME. Het geluidskanon wordt niet alleen op mensen gericht. Het wordt ook ingezet om bijvoorbeeld vogels weg te jagen bij vliegvelden. Kan een LRAD-achtig systeem achter de mysterieuze kwalen in Cuba zitten?

Wagenaar denkt van niet. Dan zouden de Amerikanen, of anderen in de buurt van de ambassade, duidelijk iets hebben gehoord. Ook het gebruik van ultrasoon geluid (waarvan de frequentie te hoog is voor het menselijke oor) lijkt onwaarschijnlijk. "Dan krijg je meer last van oorsuizen, of gehoorschade. En niet hersenletsel, misselijkheid of hoofdpijn", legt de neuropsycholoog uit.

Harde conclusies zijn volgens hem niet te trekken zolang het onderzoek nog loopt. Hoe dan ook staat voor Wagenaar als een paal boven water: "Ultrasoon en infrasoon geluid zijn krachtige wapens. Je weet letterlijk niet wat je overkomt."

Vreemde kwalen Amerikanen op Cuba na 'akoestische aanval'

 

Vreemde kwalen Amerikanen op Cuba na 'akoestische aanval'

VRIJDAG, 01:18
Amerikaanse ambassade in Havana ANP

Zeker zestien Amerikanen die op de ambassade op Cuba werken, hebben onverklaarbare gezondheidsproblemen gekregen. Het Amerikaanse ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken heeft dat bevestigd. Ook een Canadese diplomaat is ziek geworden.

De Amerikaanse omroep CBS meldde vorige week dat ambassademedewerkers in de hoofdstad Havana ineens last kregen van gehoorverlies, hoofdpijn, evenwichtsstoornissen en misselijkheid. Ook gezinsleden van de Amerikanen werden ziek.

'Akoestische aanval'

Bij een aantal mensen werd licht hersenletsel en schade aan het centraal zenuwstelsel geconstateerd. Sommigen hebben nu een gehoorapparaat nodig. Een deel van de zieken is teruggekeerd naar de VS. Anderen worden op Cuba behandeld.

Amerikaanse media spraken over een "akoestische aanval", maar het ministerie zegt dat de oorzaak nog onduidelijk is. Deskundigen proberen nu uit te zoeken of huizen van diplomaten misschien zijn bestookt met schadelijke geluidsgolven.

Geen idee

De autoriteiten op Cuba zeggen dat ze geen idee hebben wat er aan de hand is en werken mee met het onderzoek. Het raadselachtige fenomeen speelde sinds eind 2016, maar werd pas in april openbaar.

De problemen lijken overigens voorbij. De afgelopen tijd zijn er geen nieuwe zieken meer bij gekomen.

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19 American diplomats in Cuba suffering health problems after 'attacks' blamed on secret sonic weapon

US officials said the bizarre incidents took place as recently as August, despite earlier assessments that they had long stopped

   
   
 
   
   
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The Independent US
cuba-embassy.jpgThe US embassy in Havana, where some of the attacks are believed to have taken place Getty

At least 19 American diplomats in Cuba have been affected by mysterious attacks blamed on a secret sonic weapon, the United States said on Friday. 

US officials said the bizarre incidents took place as recently as August, despite earlier assessments that they had long stopped. 

The new disclosures came the same day the union representing American diplomats said mild traumatic brain injury was among the diagnoses given to diplomats victimised in the attacks. 

In the most detailed account of the symptoms to date, the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) said permanent hearing loss was another diagnosis, and that additional symptoms had included brain swelling, severe headaches, loss of balance and “cognitive disruption”. 

State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said the US was continually revising its assessments of the scope of the attacks as new information was obtained. She said the investigation had not been completed. 

“We can confirm another incident which occurred last month and is now part of the investigation,” Ms Nauert said. 

US officials had previously said the attacks, initially believed to be caused by a potential covert sonic device, had started in autumn 2016 and continued until spring 2017. 

Last week, Ms Nauert said at least 16 Americans associated with the US embassy in Havana had been affected, but that the “incidents” were no longer occurring. 

The evolving US assessment indicated investigators were still far off from any thorough understanding of what transpired in the attacks, described by the US as “unprecedented”. 

As the bizarre saga has unfolded, the US has encouraged its diplomats to report any strange physical sensations. So it’s unclear whether some symptoms being attributed to the attacks might actually be unrelated. 

Still, the fact there was an incident as recently as August suggests the attacks likely continued long after the US government became aware of them and ostensibly raised the issue with the Cuban government, creating even more uncertainty about the timeline and who was responsible. 

Notably, the US has avoided accusing Cuba’s government of being behind the attacks. The US did expel two Cuban diplomats, but the State Department emphasised that it was in protest of the Cubans’ failure to protect the safety of American diplomats while on their soil, not an indication the US felt that Havana masterminded it.

US investigators are searching to identify a device that could have harmed the health of the diplomats, believed to have been attacked in their homes in Havana, but officials have said no device has been found. 

One of the diplomats affected had arrived over the summer of 2017 to work at the US embassy and was later diagnosed with concussion-like symptoms, said a US official, who declined to specify the symptoms that led the diplomat to report the situation. 

And in Canada, a government official said that the Canadian government had first learned in March 2017 that one of its citizens was affected. Ottawa had previously confirmed that at least one Canadian diplomat was involved, but had not revealed any timeline for when it occurred or came to light. 

Both the US and Canadian officials demanded anonymity because they weren’t authorised to comment publicly. 

It’s unclear whether Canadians were intentionally targeted or whether there could have been collateral damage from an attack aimed at Americans, given that diplomats from various countries often live in the same areas of a foreign capital. US officials have said the Americans were targeted in their homes in Havana, not in the embassy. 

Canadian officials have been actively working with US and Cuban authorities to ascertain the cause. A Cuban attack deliberately targeting Canadians would be even more confounding, given that Canada – unlike the US – has long had friendly ties to Cuba. 

AFSA, in describing the damage to diplomats’ health, said it had met with or spoken to 10 diplomats affected, but did not specify how many of the 10 had been diagnosed with hearing loss or with mild traumatic brain injury, commonly called a concussion. 

Yet the confirmation that at least some diplomats suffered brain injury suggests the attacks caused more serious damage than the hearing-related complaints that were initially reported. 

“We can’t rule out new cases as medical professionals continue to evaluate members of the embassy community,” Ms Nauert said. She added that the embassy has a medical officer and has been consistently providing care to those who have reported incidents. 

Asked for further details about what the US had learned about the cause or culprit in the attacks, the State Department said it had no more information to share. 

Traumatic brain injury, or TBI, typically results from a bump, jolt or other external force that disrupts normal brain functioning, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Short- and long-term effects can include changes to memory and reasoning, sight and balance, language abilities and emotions. 

Not all traumatic brain injuries are the same. Doctors evaluate patients using various clinical metrics such as the Glasgow Coma Scale, in which a numerical score is used to classify TBIs as mild, moderate or severe. 

“AFSA strongly encourages the Department of State and the US government to do everything possible to provide appropriate care for those affected, and to work to ensure that these incidents cease and are not repeated,” the union said in a statement. 

AP

   
   
 
   
   
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