The F.B.I. Is Quietly Contacting Cubans in Florida, Raising Old Alarm Bells 2

 

Demonstrations in Miami in 2015 against the opening of the U.S. embassy in Havana.
(Michele Eve Sandberg/Corbis, via Getty Images)

By Frances Robles, New York Times

Julio V. Ruiz, a 71-year-old retired psychiatrist with a long history of participating in talks with the Cuban government, tried to ignore the persistent knocking at his door by two strangers when they showed up uninvited one afternoon last week.

The rapping on the door went on for 15 minutes. It was the F.B.I.

“Everyone tells you not to speak to them and to call your lawyer,” Dr. Ruiz said. “But you get scared. I was measured in what I said, and gave them a brief history of Cuba going back to the 19th century.”

At least five Cuban-Americans in Miami, including Dr. Ruiz, who have opposed a trade embargo with Cuba and promoted better relations with the communist government in Havana, said they received surprise visits in the past week from federal agents.

The law enforcement representatives were vague about their intentions, gave only their first names, and asked questions that seemed intended to learn about contacts with Cuban diplomats, Dr. Ruiz said.

For many, the questions triggered decades-old concerns dating back to a time when ideological divisions in the Cuban exile community were more pronounced, and sometimes were coupled with law enforcement scrutiny.

Those contacted were among a large group of exiles who came to the United States as children in the early 1960s, fleeing the Castro dictatorship. As adults, they supported engaging with the Cuban government, even when doing so was deeply unpopular in South Florida and often caused them to be ostracized.

Some of those contacted said they feared that they were being targeted as part of President Trump’s moves to curtail travel to Cuba and roll back new openings with Havana that had been enacted by the Obama administration.

The meetings come in the wake of a series of bizarre ailments, which some suggested could be linked to possible sonic or microwave attacks, that afflicted more than three dozen American diplomats and family members in Cuba and China. The incidents in Cuba resulted in a diplomatic rupture between Havana and Washington, and the U.S. embassy in Havana is down to a skeleton staff.

But there was no sign that the recent meetings were connected to any investigation of those reports. A brochure the agents left with one of the men suggested that the agents were trying to alert him to the possibility that he was being targeted by spies.

Article Continues Here:  FBI Warns Activists

 

 

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Now Russia is Suspected of Attacks Against Diplomats in Cuba. Will U.S. Strike Back? 6

File picture showing a vintage US car passing in front of the US Embassy in Havana on December 17, 2015. (Photo credit should read YAMIL LAGE/AFP/Getty Images)

By Nora Gámez Torres, ngameztorres@elnuevoherald.com

Cuba is again in the middle of what could be another confrontation between the United States and Russia, after Moscow was identified in a news report as the main suspect in the string of mysterious attacks against U.S. embassy personnel and relatives in Havana.

An NBC report quoting unidentified U.S. officials said federal agencies investigating the incidents have intercepted intelligence communications that point to Russian responsibility for the attacks, although the evidence is not conclusive enough to formally accuse Moscow.

But if a Russian role is confirmed, “that would be unprecedented. That’s never happened,” said Frank Mora, who served as deputy secretary of defense for Latin America and now heads the Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center at Florida International University.

“Russia has meddled in the U.S. elections and has been behind the attacks on former Russian spies in England, but to provoke serious injuries to U.S. officials, that is much more complicated and the United States has to react in some way,” he added.

Cuba is again in the middle of what could be another confrontation between the United States and Russia, after Moscow was identified in a news report as the main suspect in the string of mysterious attacks against U.S. embassy personnel and relatives in Havana.

An NBC report quoting unidentified U.S. officials said federal agencies investigating the incidents have intercepted intelligence communications that point to Russian responsibility for the attacks, although the evidence is not conclusive enough to formally accuse Moscow.

But if a Russian role is confirmed, “that would be unprecedented. That’s never happened,” said Frank Mora, who served as deputy secretary of defense for Latin America and now heads the Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center at Florida International University.

“Russia has meddled in the U.S. elections and has been behind the attacks on former Russian spies in England, but to provoke serious injuries to U.S. officials, that is much more complicated and the United States has to react in some way,” he added.

The NBC report said the U.S. military is working to replicate the weapon or weapons used to injure 26 employees of the State Department, the CIA and other federal agencies as well as relatives who were based in Havana. The victims suffered symptoms such as loss of hearing, cognitive problems and some experienced brain damage.

A team of doctors that investigated the incidents at the request of the U.S. government has said it’s possible the attackers used a “neuro-weapon” of directed energy that could damage the brain by causing a “cavitation” effect with ultrasonic, electromagnetic or microwaves. The U.S. Air Force research program on directed energy is participating in the investigation.

Article continues here:  Russians in Cuba?

 

Family of Cuban-American Jailed in Cuba For Espionage Pleads For U.S Attorney, Consular Visits 6

Alina Lopez Miyares, the mother of a Cuban-American jailed in Cuba on alleged espionage charges, holds a picture of her daughter in her home in Miami Beach on August 7, 2018.Carmen Sesin / NBC News

The case of Alina López Miyares runs into Cuba’s policy of considering anyone born in Cuba to be a Cuban national once they step foot on the island.

by Carmen Sesin, NBC News

MIAMI BEACH — The family and attorney of a Cuban-American citizen who’s in a Cuban prison after being sentenced to 13 years for alleged espionage are asking the country’s authorities to allow the woman to receive U.S. consular and attorney visits.

But the case of Alina López Miyares, 59, runs into Cuba’s longstanding policy of considering anyone born in Cuba to be a Cuban national once they step foot on the island. Cuba is among a number of countries who don’t recognize dual U.S. citizenship.

The U.S. embassy in Cuba states in their website, “Cuban authorities may deny U.S. consular officers access to dual Cuban-American citizens.”

According to a source intimately familiar with the case, López Miyares was sentenced for allegedly spying for the U.S. Her husband, Felix Martín Milanés Fajardo — a former Cuban official assigned to the Permanent Mission of Cuba to the United Nations — was sentenced to 17 years, according to her mother.

Jason Poblete, a Washington D.C. based attorney who is representing López Miyares, said “there have been repeated overtures for consular service and they have been denied or the Cubans have been non-responsive.”

He said a legal team from his practice is prepared to travel to the island if the Cuban government were to allow them access to López Miyares.

Vicki Huddleston, who was Chief of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana from 1999 to 2002, said they were not able to see Cuban-Americans jailed in Cuba. “We would reach out to the government and request to see them, but the answer was always no.”

Jim Cason, who succeeded Huddleston as Chief of the U.S. Interests section in Havana and is a former ambassador to Paraguay, said Cuba was very tough on their policy of dual nationality.

A U.S. State Department official did not confirm nor deny the imprisonment of López Miyares, citing privacy laws.

But in a statement to NBC News, the official stated that some of the most vulnerable U.S. citizens abroad are those who are detained in a foreign county, adding the State Department is always ready to provide services and help.

Article continues here:  Dangerous Dual Citizenship

 

 

Doctors Reveal Possible “Neuro-Weapon” Used in Alleged Attacks in Cuba 3

By Nora Gámez Torres, ngameztorres@elnuevoherald.com

The U.S. Embassy in Havana (CNS photo/Alejandro Ernesto, EPA)

Three doctors who evaluated U.S. personnel affected by alleged attacks in Cuba believe that they were carried out with a weapon that uses directed energy and is capable of causing a “cavitation” effect.

“Neuro-weapons” can be biological, chemical, or in the case of the incidents in Havana, “directed energy weapons,” Dr. James Giordano told National Defense magazine. He is a professor in the departments of neurology and biochemistry at the Medical Center of Georgetown University Medical Center, and an expert in “neurotechnology” and its use in the military.

On Thursday, U.S. Department of State officials said in a congressional hearing that investigators still do not know how the attacks against U.S. personnel at the embassy in Havana were carried out or who the perpetrators are. The attacks began in late 2016 and the most recent was reported in May.

But three doctors that are part of a team put together by the State Department believe that those affected by the attacks may have been exposed to a directed energy weapon, which can cause injury by creating “cavitation,” or air pockets, in fluids near the inner ear.

The bubbles can travel quickly through two pathways that carry blood to the brain from the inner ear — the cochlear and the vestibular — and “function as a stroke,” Giordano said.

So far, 26 Americans have been affected with symptoms ranging from hearing loss, balance and cognitive problems, to brain damage.

The team created by the government includes an expert in brain trauma and otolaryngology, Dr. Michael Hoffer of the University of Miami, and Dr. Carey Balaban, professor of otolaryngology, bioengineering and neurobiology at the University of Pittsburgh. Giordano, Hoffer and Balaban independently studied the first tests taken by those affected.

The victims traveled to Miami to be evaluated and Hoffer also traveled to Havana shortly after the first incidents were reported in late December 2016, all occurring in diplomatic residences and two hotels.

The U.S. personnel he examined said they were sitting in their homes, or at the hotel, when they suddenly felt the symptoms: a feeling of pressure, pain or ringing in the ears and dizziness after being exposed to a shrill noise. A day later, some reported cognitive deficits.

Hoffer said that some of those affected said they perceived that the energy “beam” followed them around their homes or at the hotel, and it only ceased when they opened the front door.

The team was unable to conclude exactly what method the perpetrators of the attacks used but reduced it to several possibilities:

Read more here: Neuro-weapon

He Now Hunts Cuban Human-Rights Abusers In The U.S. Was He Once An Offender Himself? 3

Juan Antonio Blanco, director ejecutivo de la Fundación por los Derechos Humanos en Cuba. (Courtesy: Miami Herald)

By Nora Gámez Torres, ngameztorres@elnuevoherald.com 

Juan Antonio Blanco — the academic, activist, and executive director of the Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba — recently announced an initiative to unmask and deport Cuban human-rights abusers now living in the United States. He declared that the drive was not “a witch hunt” against people just because of their political beliefs or affiliations with political organizations on the island.

What Blanco didn’t say: He once belonged to the Rapid Response Brigades, which were created by Fidel Castro in the 1990s to repress dissidents and contain popular unrest.

“I myself am a member of the Rapid Response Brigades in my building,” Blanco said during a conference in the United States in 1993, after he had broken with the Cuban government.

The brigades were organized along paramilitary lines and have been frequently deployed by the government to repress the dissident Ladies in White and other opposition groups. In 1994, Brigade members, along with police and military members dressed in civilian clothes and armed with clubs and steel rods, cracked down on a large Havana protest known as El Maleconazo, which gave way to the mass departures of the Balsero Crisis.

“It’s true that there have been cases where such encounters have gotten out of hand. I joined the brigade precisely because I think it is important to make sure that there will be no excesses or abuses,” Blanco added in 1993, according to the book “Talking About Revolution,” which was written by activist Medea Benjamin and based on conferences that Blanco held in several U.S. universities at the time.

Twenty-five years later, Blanco still finds it difficult to explain his statements.

“I did not belong to a Rapid Response Brigades unit,” he initially told el Nuevo Herald during a telephone interview. “The most that I recall participating in was one time when there was a protest against a neighbor in my building, and what I did was precisely to block any abuses against that person. What I did was to break up the activity.”

“I say there [at a 1993 conference] that I am a member because I belonged, not because I signed anything or was involved in anything,” Blanco said. “Sadly, the way that I was talking about that at that time, well, you evidently seize on that now and you take it out of context, and that doesn’t help.”

Feature continues here:  Devoted Spy to Human Rights Champion?

 

Target USA: Episode 120 — Rethinking the Illnesses of US diplomats in Havana: A New Theory 1

On Aug. 9, 2017, CBS correspondent Steve Dorsey broke the story that U.S. diplomats in Havana had been sickened by a mysterious illness, the cause of which no one could put their finger on. At the time no one had any answers about what happened. Doctors determined they were likely suffering from some kind of ultrasonic device. But since then other possibilities have arisen. Chris Simmons, a retired supervisory counterintelligence officer from the Defense Intelligence Agency with deep experience related to Cuba, has a theory and supporting evidence that makes perfect sense and is very plausible.

Podcast link:  Cuba’s Sonic Attacks

New Enhancements at Cuba’s Primary Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) Base Suggests Improved Targeting of United States 1

Image Credit: Victor Robert Lee & Digital Globe

Satellite Images: A (Worrying) Cuban Mystery

The new radome in Cuba is unprecedented. Who is behind it?

By Victor Robert Lee, The Diplomat.com

Satellite images from February and May 2018 show a newly constructed radome on the signals intelligence base near Bejucal, Cuba. Its protective dome and elevated mounting make it the first of its kind among the numerous long-standing SIGINT antennas at Bejucal, which have been used to intercept electronic communications from the United States.

The new steerable parabolic antenna and its spherical enclosure (together called a radome) were erected on a site adjacent to other known Cuban surveillance antennas south of Havana near the town of Bejucal between March 2017 and February 2018. The functions of the new antenna are not discernible from the current satellite images, but similar antennas have been employed for signals interception, missile tracking, satellite uplinks and downlinks, radio communications, tracking of objects in space, and in some cases to disrupt satellite communications. The radome, approximately 6-7 meters in diameter, sits atop a square building approximately 11-12 meters wide. If the antenna can be tilted to horizontal – a common capability – its elevated position could also enable direct communications with vessels at sea or other signal sources on the horizon.

The Bejucal signals intelligence site had a relatively static number of parabolic antennas –approximately two dozen– from 2010 until 2016, and only one of them, considerably smaller than the new radome, was covered, although such coverings are common in many other nations, particularly at facilities with military or intelligence functions. Such specialized coverings can protect from weather and wear, but another advantage is that they conceal the orientation, and thus the possible purposes, of the antenna within.

Satellite images of the signals intelligence base near Bejucal also show that two smaller steerable parabolic antennas were installed in April-May 2017, the same period as the beginning of construction of the new radome. These antennas, located 460 meters south of the newly constructed radome, are linked by above-ground conduits to two other antennas installed as recently as May 2016.

Feature continues here: Cuban SIGINT

 

Rubio, Díaz-Balart Want Investigation of Raúl Castro in 1996 Shoot-Down of Exile Planes 1

 

The four Brothers to the Rescue pilots who were shot down by Cuban aircraft in 1996. C.M. Guerrero el Nuevo Herald

By Nora Gámez Torres

ngameztorres@elnuevoherald.com

Two Florida Republicans, Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart, have asked President Donald Trump to consider an investigation into whether Cuba’s former ruler, Raúl Castro, should be indicted for the 1996 shoot-down of two Brothers to the Rescue planes.

The shoot-down by Cuban military planes resulted in the deaths of three U.S. citizens — Carlos Costa, Armando Alejandre and Mario de la Peña — as well as the death of Pablo Morales, a U.S. permanent resident.

“We urge you to consider new, additional actions to hold the Castro regime accountable for its crimes. For that reason, within all applicable rules and regulations, we urge you to direct the Department of Justice to review whether Raúl Castro should be indicted for the illegal and heinous act” of shooting down the two civilian aircraft in international waters, Rubio and Díaz-Balart said in a letter they sent to the president on Monday.

Brothers to the Rescue made volunteer flights in the Straits of Florida to search for Cuban rafters who had fled the island by sea. The organization also made flights inside Cuban territory to drop pamphlets denouncing the government of the late Fidel Castro. At the time, Raúl Castro was the minister of Cuba’s Revolutionary Armed Forces.

Cuban authorities asked the U.S. government to ground the flights, but they continued and on Feb. 24, 1996, two Cuban military planes shot down two of the Brothers to the Rescue planes.

In 2003, a U.S. federal court in Miami indicted three Cuban officials on charges of murder, but Raúl Castro was not among them. None of them were tried. Gerardo Hernández, leader of a Cuban spy ring known as the WASP network, was sentenced to life in prison in connection with the shoot-down but he was freed by the Obama administration as part of a prisoner exchange.

The legislators also asked Trump to direct appropriate agencies to assess whether Interpol “red notices” should be issued for the arrest and extradition to the United States “of all Cuban operatives responsible for the murders.”

Editor’s Note: “Operation Scorpion” was the codename Havana’s primary service used for their mission supporting the murder of Brothers to the Rescue members. Due to their central role in the shoot down, key members of the Directorate of Intelligence (DI) should be included in any attempt to issue Interpol “red notices.”

 

County Court Writes A $15,000 Check To One Of The FBI’s ‘Most Wanted Terrorists’ 2

FILE – In this April 25, 1977, file photo, Joanne Chesimard, member of the Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army, leaves Middlesex County courthouse in New Brunswick, N.J. Now known as Assata Shakur, Chesimard was convicted in 1977 of killing a New Jersey state trooper four years earlier, and was sentenced to life in prison but escaped and wound up in Cuba in the 1980s, where she continues to reside. AP Photo, File

By Camila Molina, cmolina@newsobserver.com

A county in North Carolina wrote a $15,000 check to Assata Shakur, also known as Joanne Deborah Chesimard, a woman whom the U.S. government has identified as a convicted murderer, fugitive and domestic terrorist.

Shakur was a prominent member of the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army.

In the 1970s, Shakur was convicted for the murder of a New Jersey state trooper. Shakur escaped prison in 1979 and lived underground for the next five years, according to Vice.

In 1985 she fled to Cuba, where she received political asylum and continues to live today. In 2013, The FBI identified her as one of the agency’s “Most Wanted Terrorists,” offering $1 million and an additional $1 million offered by the state of New Jersey for information leading to her capture and return to the U.S.

So why would New Hanover County, a coastal community in North Carolina, write a check to one of the federal government’s top priority fugitives?

Shakur is one of the last Freeman family descendants sought by a private company that has purchased land near Freeman Park in Carolina Beach, North Carolina, Port City Daily reported. The Superior Court of New Hanover helped negotiate a selling price for the Freeman descendants and held the company’s payment to be given to the heirs.

A superior court judge signed a court order saying it was not aware of a legal reason to withhold the payment from Shakur, the daily reported, and on April 3 the Superior Court Clerk of New Hanover County wrote a check to Shakur for $15,351.39.

Although the land deal began more than 10 years ago, the sale was delayed until this April because at first Shakur’s whereabouts was unknown, and there were multiple attempts to contact some of her family members, based on court documents the daily reviewed.

Shakur made at least one appearance in the U.S. for the land deal in May 2015 when she went to Manhattan to sign a power of attorney to her sister Beverly Goins.

By August 2017, the same attorney who represented her during her murder trial began the process to secure the company’s payment through her sister.

The FBI and the Office of the U.S. Attorney are investigating whether any laws were broken during the deal, the daily reported.

She’s the first woman on the FBI’s most wanted list and is still being sought.

 

Cuba Spy Josefina Vidal Becomes Cuba’s Ambassador to Canada — 15 Years After Her Expulsion From The US For Espionage 3

Cuban Spy Josefina Vidal (in blue) as Cuba’s new Ambassador to Canada

(Courtesy:  Cuba’s Prensa Latina) The Governor General of Canada, Julie Payette, today received Josefina Vidal in solemn audience, who introduced her to the Letters accrediting her as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Cuba in this country.

During the ceremony, which took place at Rideau Hall, the official residence of the governor, Vidal had an exchange with Payette, who expressed the interest of the Government of the Greater one of the Antilles to broaden and strengthen the traditional mutually beneficial relations between the two nations and peoples, a note from the Cuban embassy here.

Before being appointed to represent the government in Havana in Ottawa, Vidal was director general of the United States in the Chancellery of the Caribbean island.

On December 17, 2014 the Cuban president Raúl Castro and his American counterpart, Barack Obama, announced the decision to restore diplomatic relations between the two countries and to move toward the normalization of bilateral ties, a process in which Josefina played a role of first order.

From 1999 to 2003 was first secretary of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington and subsequently took over as General Manager of North America of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Caribbean island, work which she did until being appointed ambassador to Canada.

Payette occupies the position since October 2017 and her functions eminently protocolary meetings as representative of the Queen Elizabeth is also preside over the inauguration of the Prime Minister, the chief judges and members of the Cabinet.

During the first 85 years of the existence of Canada only British personalities occupied that position, all with aristocratic titles, and became the first Canadian to reach the post was Vincent Massey in 1952, while the first female to head that office was Jeanne Sauvé, in 1984.

Editor’s Note:  Josefina Vidal was among 16 Cuban spies handpicked by the FBI and Defense Intelligence Agency for expulsion in 2003. The Cuban spy-diplomats were thrown out in retaliation for Havana’s targeting of US operations against Iraq. Vidal is assigned to Department M-I (US Targets) of the Directorate of Intelligence. Theoretically, Havana’s spies must retire from their spy service before they came become an ambassador.