The American diplomats and family members who mysteriously fell ill while stationed at the US embassy in Havana may have been zapped by microwaves that can cause brain injuries, according to a frightening report Saturday.
Doctors and scientists examined 21 of the more than three dozen people affected at the now-abandoned building, concluding that microwaves are “a main suspect” in their medical conditions, a story in The New York Times says.
“Everybody was relatively skeptical at first,’’ Dr. Douglas H. Smith, the head author of a study of the victims’ ailments, told the newspaper in an interview. “[But] everyone now agrees there’s something there.”
He added the doctors and other scientists who studied the apparent attacks are “increasingly sure’’ the victims sustained brain injuries.
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Analysts cite the Frey effect, named after an American scientist who discovered that microwaves can make victims think they’re hearing loud noises like ringing and buzzing — or human voices.
Even deaf people are susceptible.
Allan Frey, 83, told The Times it’s possible microwave strikes — which can harm the brain — were set off by Cubans, possibly those supporting Russia. The goal, he theorized, was sabotaging Havana’s growing ties with Washington.
The embassy was abandoned after the attacks and is now empty.
Members of “Jason,” described by the newspaper as a “secretive group of elite scientists that helps the government assess new threats to national security,” are also looking at microwaves as a possible cause.
The State Department told The Times its own investigation has not yet identified the cause of the health problems.
The United States has explored the idea of turning microwaves into invisible bullets that can disable adversaries. Air Force scientists have tried to beam intelligible words and sentences into the heads of enemies, according to the report. And the Navy has looked at causing “painful discomfort” — possibly even paralyzing whoever the waves were aimed at, the Times added. It is not known such weapons were ever deployed.
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