Havana syndrome: Spooky sounds

and whether they could be used against the U.S. In 2016, U.S. diplomats in Havana, Cuba, began experiencing a range of unexplained symptoms including hearing loss, headaches, and fatigue. The U.S. government has determined that these diplomats were likely targeted with microwave weapons, and the

Havana syndrome: Spooky sounds

IRL spy thriller

IRL spy thriller

The story of a spy thriller that takes place in an exotic locale, with a mysterious illness and ghosts from the Cold War, is as captivating as it gets. The events in Cuba in 2017 were not imaginable. It's still a fact for many diplomats and intelligence officers who were affected.

Havana syndrome is a concussion-like condition that presents with nausea, dizziness and nosebleeds. It can also cause short-term memory loss. In one case, blindness in one of the eyes was reported. It has been reported all over the globe.

Invisible enemies appeared to be targeting high-ranking American diplomats in countries with different relations to the US, such as India, China and the UK. This was between 2018 and 2021. Although we don't know the exact cause of Havana syndrome yet, it is clear that it caused real harm to relations between Cuban and the US.

Let's pop a bag of popcorn into the microwave, and let's delve into this mystery.

The digits

200+: Cases under investigation at the CIA. Half of them reported to the US intelligence community

30+: Former and current CIA officers accused the agency of soft-pedaling its investigation into Havana syndrome

C$28 million (or 20.5 million dollars): Damages claimed by 14 Canadian diplomats, their families and others in a lawsuit. They accuse the government of failing to notify, evacuate and treat them as a result of Havana syndrome.

Origin story

The microwave weapon hypothesis

In 2017, the first reports about health problems affecting US Embassy staff in Havana focused on ear pain. This led to the possibility of a "sonic attack" using a long-range acoustic device, such as those used by US police against protesters.

Douglas H. Smith, lead author of the University of Pennsylvania's 2019 study of victims' brains, suggested that microwaves could be a culprit and that a device could direct a beam of radiofrequency or electromagnetic waves towards a target.

All of it is connected to the Frey Effect. This phenomenon was named after Allan H. Frey who led the research that discovered that microwaves could trick your brain into thinking they are sound.

Who is capable of creating such a device. The US military has patent technology that could be used to accomplish this purpose. This area is one in which Russia, China, and a few European countries have made significant progress. The main argument US intelligence reports use to determine the low probability of Havana syndrome being caused by a foreign agent is that there isn't any credible evidence that a foreign adversary is using a weapon or collection tool that causes AHIs [anomalous medical incidents]. Some agencies still acknowledge radiofrequency energy as a possible cause of the health problems.


"All agencies recognize the value of additional research in the RF field on possible adversary capabilities, in part because there is still a scientific debate about whether such a weapon could produce the symptoms seen with some of the AHI cases.

-- Excerpt taken from the Mar. 1, 2023 on the anomalous medical incidents (AHI).

It's like I'm five.

Havana syndrome's 'immaculate concussion'

Some victims heard a sound. Some victims felt an overwhelming pressure. Many people reported difficulty focusing or other cognitive impairments. However, when the first reports of a disease affecting US Embassy staff in Havana became public, the main focus was on hearing loss. Talk of "sonic attacks" quickly spread.

The mysterious illness affected embassy workers was quickly treated at the Penn Center for Brain Damage and Repair at Penn University. Doctors soon started to associate the symptoms with concussion symptoms, such as nausea, dizziness and vertigo, earache, blacking out and short-term memory impairment.

Concussions usually result from a blow to head. However, this is not the only cause of brain injury. Brain trauma can be caused by a jarring motion, such as an abrupt brake of a fast car. This is a part of the nerve cells that transmits stimuli to other neurons. Although still under investigation, brain injuries similar to those suffered by US Embassy staff have been linked to intense microwave frequency exposure.

Pop quiz

Which DC-based location was reported to have been the site of a Havana-like attack?

A. Lincoln Memorial

B. Washington Monument

C. Harry Truman Building

D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building

Find the solution at the bottom of the email!

Fun fact!

The Cold War was in full swing when the US government noticed that the Soviet Union was attacking the Moscow Embassy with microwave radiation. "Microwave Diplomacy" was the name given to the decade that Washington attempted to end Kremlin attacks.

A brief history of the Havana Syndrome's impact on North America's relations to Cuba

August 2015: The US Embassy reopens in Havana after President Barack Obama announces a significant US foreign policy shift in relations with Cuba. This is expected to undermine Russia's influence and increase economic opportunities for its citizens.

Late 2016, first cases reported in Havana. Most of them are in the homes and offices of the Embassy staff.

June 2017: The US President Donald Trump reinstates restrictions on travel and trade with Cuba.

August 2017: CBS reporter Steve Dorsey raised the topic of 'incidents,' which affect embassy staff in Havana. Heather Neuart, a spokesperson for the US, confirms that several US government employees are suffering from 'a variety physical symptoms'. She also reveals that two Cuban diplomats were expelled by the US in May. However, she refuses to give any explanations. Canadian officials confirm that at least one Canadian embassy staffer in Havana was also affected.

October 2017: The US Embassy in Havana closes.

January 2019: Canada reduces the number of staff at its Embassy in Cuba.

2020: Trump orders Marriott to cease operations in Cuba.

September 2020: New restrictions imposed by the Trump administration on trade and tourism to Cuba

February 2021: The CIA creates a task force in order to investigate episodes affecting US government officials.

Sept. 2021: Staff around the globe are asked by Pentagon to report any undiagnosed illnesses.

Oct. 2021: The US President Joe Biden signs legislation granting compensation for victims of Havana Syndrome.

Jan. 2022: An interim report by the CIA excludes foreign involvement in most cases. It identifies environmental and medical factors that are the causes of most illnesses. Two dozen cases are still unsolved, and the report should be the subject of investigation.

2023: An intelligence report from the US confirms that it is unlikely that a foreign agency targeted US officials. Officials from Cuba view the report as a c