Weaponized microwave energy attacks may have caused American diplomats and family members to fall mysteriously ill while they were stationed at the U.S. embassy in Havana, Cuba, according to published reports.
A New York Times report on Saturday stated that doctors and scientists who examined 21 of the affected diplomats believe microwaves are “a main suspect."
“Everybody was relatively skeptical at first," Dr. Douglas H. Smith, the lead author of a study of the victims’ ailments, told the news outlet in an interview.
“[But] everyone now agrees there’s something there," Smith, director of the Center for Brain Injury and Repair at the University of Pennsylvania, said. He also said the team is becoming increasingly sure that the diplomats suffered brain injury.
Smith said diplomats and doctors jokingly refer to the trauma as the "immaculate concussion.”
When did people become ill?
Starting in 2016, more than three dozen American diplomats and family members in Cuba and China began experiencing a series of “baffling symptoms and ailments.” In Cuba, the development caused a "diplomatic rupture between Havana and Washington,” according to the report.
The New York Times noted that the medical team who examined the afflicted diplomats did not mention microwaves in its detailed report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in March.
It’s called the “Frey effect,’’ named after an American scientist who discovered that certain types of focused microwaves can make victims think they’re hearing loud ringing buzzing noises and even human voices, the report stated.
Allan Frey, 83, told the newspaper that it’s possible that Cubans aligned with Russia set off a series of microwave strikes, which can injure the brain. Their likely goal would have been to undermine Havana’s growing ties with the U.S., he said.
“It’s a possibility,” Frey said. “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.”
Members of Jason, a “secretive group of elite scientists that helps the government assess national security threats,’’ are also investigating microwaves as the possible cause.
Has the government confirmed it?
The State Department has said it has not identified that microwaves were the cause of the attacks. The FBI declined to comment, according to the report.