U.S. Diplomats, Families in Cuba Targeted Nearly 50 Times by Mysterious Sonic Attacks: Official 1

By KTLA 5

Some of the 21 US diplomats believed to have been impacted by mysterious acoustic attacks in Cuba were targeted multiple times, CNN has learned from a senior US official.

There were nearly 50 attacks in total, the official said.

The incidents have challenged the US government’s assessment that Cuba is a safe country for US diplomats and their families and threatened the future of the newly reopened embassy.

Despite the often-empty supermarkets and antagonistic relations with the communist-run government, Cuba for years offered US diplomats a rare benefit: It was safe.

Unlike in many other countries, in Cuba, US Embassy employees didn’t have to worry much about terrorist attacks, kidnapping or even petty crime. The Cuban government’s tight control over the island made Havana one of the safest cities in the world.

Diplomats — especially those Cuba suspected of being spies — might suffer harassment at the hands of the powerful state security apparatus, but there were established lines neither of the Cold War adversaries would cross.

But starting early this year, US diplomats heading to the island to begin their postings were quietly warned they could face a mysterious threat that was causing American Foreign Service officers to fall ill, some with long-lasting symptoms.

Investigators haven’t determined the cause of the incidents, but US officials told CNN they are convinced someone has targeted American diplomats in Havana with a sophisticated device never deployed before, at least not against US personnel.

Canadian diplomats have suffered similar health problems, according to US and Canadian officials.

Despite the often-empty supermarkets and antagonistic relations with the communist-run government, Cuba for years offered US diplomats a rare benefit: It was safe.

Unlike in many other countries, in Cuba, US Embassy employees didn’t have to worry much about terrorist attacks, kidnapping or even petty crime. The Cuban government’s tight control over the island made Havana one of the safest cities in the world.

Diplomats — especially those Cuba suspected of being spies — might suffer harassment at the hands of the powerful state security apparatus, but there were established lines neither of the Cold War adversaries would cross.

Feature continues here:  Sonic attacks

 

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How Fidel Castro’s Sexy Mistress Almost Took Him Down 5

Marita Lorenz and Fidel Castro (AP)

By Stefanie Cohen, The New York Post

Marita Lorenz is the Forrest Gump of the Cold War. She was Fidel Castro’s lover and his would-be assassin. She was also seemingly involved in or present for almost every important geo-political event of that era: from the founding of communist Cuba to the Bay of Pigs invasion to the Kennedy assassination.

By all accounts, she seems to be a woman attracted to danger. But she’s rather blasé about it all. According to Lorenz: “One thing just led to another.”

Lorenz, who is now 78 and living in her son’s workspace in Brooklyn, has penned a book about her cloak-and-dagger life: “Marita: The Spy Who Loved Castro” (Pegasus Books, out Sept. 5). This is at least the sixth version of her torrid life story. There are a total of three books, including this newest one, and two movies based on her. A third movie, starring Jennifer Lawrence as Marita, is slated to for release from Sony Pictures in 2018.

“I’m honored,” says Lorenz of having the starlet portray her. “I think she will be able to capture the way I lived. I would like to meet her. I want to talk to her about my intimate feelings about my life.”

Even Lorenz’s early years were dramatic. Raised in Germany, her mother was an anti-Nazi American and her father was a German cruise ship captain. At age 6 she was thrown in Bergen Belsen concentration camp with her mom, and when she was freed, at age 7, she was raped by an American soldier who lived nearby. The early wounds seemed to make her immune to drama and danger.

When she was 19, she was aboard her father’s ship in Havana Harbor when two boats approached, filled with bearded men dressed in military uniforms. One of them caught her attention. “His face fascinated me,” she writes. This was the face of Fidel Castro, who only a month before had taken over Cuba from Fulgencio Batista in the famed 26 of July Revolution. “I will never forget the first time I beheld that penetrating stare, that beautiful face, that wicked and seductive smile,” she writes.

“I am Dr. Castro,” he said. “Fidel. I am Cuba. I have come to visit your large ship.”

The two exchanged glances, and mere moments later they embraced in her cabin below decks — the start of an affair that would change the course of her life. He called her Alemanita — “Little German Girl,” and as soon as she returned to America, he sent a private plane to collect her. She stayed in Cuba with him for seven months, in his suite at the Havana Hilton.

Feature continues here:  Fidel’s Lover

U.S. Hiding Key Details of Mystery Attacks on American Diplomats in Cuba 3

File picture showing a vintage US car passing in front of the US Embassy in Havana on December 17, 2015. (Getty Images)

Number of those affected by illness greater than government acknowledged

BY: Susan Crabtree and Adam Kredo, Washington Free Beacon

The number of U.S. government personnel targeted by a mysterious illness in Cuba last year is greater than the Trump administration has publicly acknowledged, according to multiple U.S. officials who told the Washington Free Beacon the Obama administration may have misled Congress about the full scope and nature of the attack.

U.S. officials disclosed earlier this month that six Americans were struck by a mystery illness believed to be caused by a covert sonic device in what many think was a clandestine operation targeting U.S. personnel stationed in the communist country.

The number of Americans impacted is greater than previously disclosed, according to multiple U.S. officials who told the Free Beacon that those suffering from symptoms of sonic damage appears to be more than 10.

“It’s definitely in the double digits,” one source told the Free Beacon.

The mysterious incident has roiled the relationship between the United States and Cuba and has raised more questions than answers in Congress, where lawmakers are finding their inquiries about the situation stymied.

Congress is scheduled to receive a brief on the matter Thursday afternoon and is seeking to have outstanding questions addressed, sources said.

In addition to the greater number of U.S. persons harmed by the sonic device, it is believed that some Americans stationed in Havana began experiencing symptoms months earlier than the State Department has publicly admitted, sources said.

While U.S. officials have publicly claimed the symptoms—which include severe hearing loss—began around December 2016, multiple sources told the Free Beacon some reported illness earlier. This raises new questions about the Obama administration’s handling of the incidents and whether they informed the required members of Congress about it in a timely manner, the sources said.

The symptoms associated with the sonic attack worsen with prolonged exposure, making it difficult to pinpoint exactly when the problems began and how many incidents may have occurred.

U.S. officials further confirmed to the Free Beacon that other Western diplomats suffered similar illnesses, prompting speculation the covert operation was not limited to targeting the United States. This includes Canadian diplomats and potentially others.

Article continues here:  US Hiding Details

Cuba Diplomats Ousted After Bizarre Incident With U.S. Embassy Workers in Havana 2

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert speaks during a briefing at the State Department in Washington, on Wednesday.

USA TODAY Editors

The U.S. has expelled two Cuban diplomats in retaliation for a bizarre incident purportedly involving a covert sonic device that allegedly left a group of American diplomats in Havana with severe hearing loss.

State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert on Wednesday spoke only cryptically about the matter, referring to an “incident” without elaboration.

Cuba has strongly denied any allegations of wrongdoing.

The purported affair began in late 2016 when a series of U.S. diplomats in Havana began suffering unexplained losses of hearing, according to officials with knowledge of the investigation into the case, the Associated Press reported.

Several of the diplomats had recently arrived at the embassy, which reopened in 2015 as part of former President Obama’s re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba and relaxation of travel restrictions.

Nauert said that as a result of the incident, two Cuban diplomats were ordered to leave their embassy in Washington on May 23.

“We requested their departure as a reciprocal measure since some U.S. personnel’s assignments in Havana had to be curtailed due to these incidents,” she said. “Under the Vienna Convention, Cuba has an obligation to take measures to protect diplomats.”

She did not say how many U.S. diplomats were affected or confirm they suffered hearing loss, saying only that they had “a variety of physical symptoms.” She said none were life-threatening.
In a lengthy statement late Wednesday, the Cuban foreign ministry said: “Cuba has never permitted, nor will permit, that Cuban territory be used for any action against accredited diplomatic officials or their families, with no exception.”

The statement said the government had been informed of the incidents Feb. 17 and launched an “exhaustive, high-priority, urgent investigation at the behest of the highest level of the Cuban government.”

It said the decision to expel two Cuban diplomats was “unjustified and baseless.”
The ministry said it created an expert committee to analyze the incidents and reinforced security around the U.S. embassy and U.S. diplomatic residences.

“Cuba is universally considered a safe destination for visitors and foreign diplomats, including U.S. citizens,” the statement said.

The affair is playing out against a backdrop of a change in U.S.-Cuban relations following the inauguration of President Trump, who has tightened travel restrictions to the island nation.

U.S. officials told the Associated Press that about five diplomats, several with spouses, had been affected and that no children were involved. The FBI and Diplomatic Security Service are investigating.

Senior Spy Specializing in Targeting Americans Assigned as Cuban Ambassador to Canada; Deputy Spy-Master Assigned as Spain’s Ambassador 2

Editor’s Note: Josefina Vidal, suspected of being a “US Targets” officer in the Director of Intelligence (DI), was expelled from the US in 2003 along with 15 other Cuban spy-diplomats. Her Deputy in the Foreign Ministry was Gustavo Machin, also a suspected US Targets officer. Machin was thrown out of the US in retaliation for the Ana Montes spy case. He later served as Cuban Ambassador to Pakistan where he is believed to have overseen Havana’s targeting of US counterterrorism operations in the region. He has now been selected to serve in Madrid as Cuba’s Ambassador. Historically, Mexico, Canada and Spain host the largest Cuban spy centers in the world (outside their three bases in the United States).  “Officially,” DI officers resign from the spy service when they become ambassadors. However, we can expect these two “retired” US Targets officers to have significant and adverse influence over the activities in their host nations. 

 

 

Bad Math:  Tampa Newspaper Erroneously Claims Just 5 People Served in Massive Cuban Spy Network Reply

By Chris Simmons

The article in yesterday’s Tampa Bay Times, “Florida’s Worst Spies,” is certain to have delighted intelligence officials in Havana. In this poorly researched feature, the Wasp Network – the largest spy ring ever known to have operated on U.S. soil, is never mentioned. Instead, the two journalists focused on five of its failed spies – the ring’s hardcore leaders whom Havana later lionized as the “Cuban Five.” In reality, the Wasp Network consisted of over 40 officers and agents, most of whom fled or made plea agreements when arrested. Led by a Cuban Military Intelligence officer, the spy ring stretched from Key West (Florida) to New York City, southwest to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana (B-52s are stationed here) and then south to Mexico City. Significantly, two military commands based in Tampa – CENTCOM and SOCOM – were major Wasp targets.

How is it possible that this paper, a self-professed winner of 12 Pulitzer Prizes, doesn’t know of key events that occurred in its own city?

 

 

 

How Fidel Castro Supported Terrorism in America 2

Puerto Rican nationalist and terrorist leader Oscar López Rivera in Chicago, May 18. Photo: European Pressphoto Agency

‘FALN was started in the mid-1960’s with a nucleus . . . that received advanced training in Cuba.’

By Zach Dorfman, Wall Street Journal

The decision to honor Oscar López Rivera, a terrorist who spent 35 years in federal prison, at New York’s Puerto Rican Day Parade Sunday unleashed a firestorm. Organizers named López Rivera—released in February under an 11th-hour clemency from President Obama —the parade’s first-ever “National Freedom Hero.”

In response, major sponsors such as Goya, Coca-Cola , Univision, Jet Blue and the Yankees pulled their support. New York Police Department Commissioner James O’Neill is refusing to march, as are several Democratic politicians, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.

The wariness over López Rivera—who’ll still march, though he’s said he’ll forgo the “hero” designation—is well-founded. The group he helped lead, the pro-independence Fuerzas Armadas de Liberación Nacional Puertorriqueña, or FALN, was one of the most prolific terrorist organizations of its time. Between the mid-1970s and mid-1980s, the FALN perpetrated more than 130 bombings. It was responsible for the 1975 explosion at Fraunces Tavern, which killed four and wounded 63; a bombing spree in New York City in August 1977 that killed one, injured six, and forced the evacuation of 100,000 office workers; and the purposeful targeting and maiming of four police officers, among many other vicious crimes.

Carnage on this scale was possible because of the FALN’s organizational and operational sophistication—including its numerous connections to communist Cuba and its intelligence services. Those connections have been known to law enforcement for decades.

According to court documents, Filiberto Ojeda Ríos, who is believed to have helped co-found the FALN, told an undercover NYPD officer in 1983 that he had received explosives training in Cuba. And the FBI estimated that by 1973, roughly 135 Puerto Rican militants had received “extensive instruction in guerilla war tactics, preparation of explosive artifacts, and sophisticated methods of sabotage” from Fidel Castro’s intelligence services.

The full extent of the FALN’s Cuba connections is unknown. But they may be more enduring than has been publicly reported. According to an NYPD document I discovered at the Hoover Institution archives at Stanford—undated, but apparently circa 1977—by that time officials had come to believe that “the FALN was started in the mid-1960’s with a nucleus of Puerto Rican terrorists that received advanced training in Cuba. . . . After their advanced training in Cuba they returned to Puerto Rico and a wave of bombings and incendiary incidents struck the [latter] island. Within the last few years they have shifted their activities to the mainland. . . . It is believed that they have maintained close links and may in fact work closely with Cuban intelligence operatives.”

Feature continues here: Cuban Support to Terrorists

 

 

Cuban Intelligence Imprisons Activist, Threatens to Destroy Opposition Movement 3

The Cuban activist is detained despite her precarious health condition. (Twitter)

By: Karina Martín PanAm Post

Tension between Cuban activists and the island’s law enforcement spiked this week after a State Security agent allegedly threatened to destroy a prominent opposition movement.

Cuban activist Joanna Columbié said a State Security agent threatened to “destroy” the Cuban opposition group she is associated with, “Somos +“ (We Are More). The agent, identified only as “Leandro,” said Saturday, May 27 that he would ensure the organization’s demise with the next few days.

Leader of Somos+ Eliécer Ávila said the agent told Columbié that she would be “processed” because the government is tired of the organization and its participation in #Otro18, a platform that organizes citizen proposals for new electoral laws.

Columbié, who is currently a political prisoner, undergoes frequent interrogation, according to Roxana Arias, another member of the organization. She said Columbié was taken to an infirmary last Sunday, May 28 due to pain in her kidneys. Despite the pain, she received no medical treatment.

Arias also said during her visits, she noticed that Columbié “was not eating much” and that “the heat in the prison was horrible.”

According to local media, Columbié suffers from diabetes, asthma and hypertension, and when her mother, who lives in Santiago, called the prison to verify her health, she was told that everyone had the right to have family members call “except her,” which was as a consequence of “not having educated her daughter properly.”

Somos has already released a statement saying that the regime will not be able to defeat the opposition movement building steam on the island, or crush Columbié’s spirit.

Sources: Cubanet; 14ymedio.

Karina Martín is a Venezuelan reporter with the PanAm Post based in Valencia. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Modern Languages from the Arturo Michelena University.

What Could a Mysterious U.S. Spy Know About the JFK Assassination? 2

A photograph of June Cobb from an August 1962 profile in Parade magazine. | Parade Magazine

John F. Kennedy buffs are awaiting the release of documents about June Cobb, a little-known CIA operative working in Cuba and Mexico around the time of the president’s assassination.

By Philip Shenon May 20, 2017

She may have been one of the bravest and best-placed American spies in the history of the Cold War, but few people outside the CIA know the mysterious story of June Cobb.

The existing information in the spy agency’s declassified files depicts Cobb as an American Mata Hari—an adventure-loving, death-defying globetrotter who moved to Cuba to work for Fidel Castro, the country’s newly installed strongman, then found herself recruited to spy for the CIA after growing disenchanted with Castro’s revolution. The era’s rampant sexism is obvious in her job evaluation reports: Cobb’s CIA handlers wrote down speculation about her sex life and her failed romance in the 1950s with an opium farmer in the jungles of South America. And the reports are filled with appraisals of Cobb’s looks, noting especially her fetching blue eyes. “Miss Cobb is not unattractive,” her CIA recruiter wrote in 1960. “She is blonde, has a slender figure, although she has a somewhat hard look, making her appear somewhat older than her 33 years.”

According to another, undated evaluation, she had a “wiry” figure but had been attractive enough to catch the Cuban dictator’s eye. Cobb, the report said, was reputedly “a former girlfriend of Castro’s.” True or not, she was close enough to get a job on the Cuban dictator’s senior staff in Havana in 1960, the perfect perch to spy for the CIA. Cobb’s agency work in Havana and later in Mexico leads us to the most puzzling aspect of her life—that she later found herself drawn deeply into the mysteries of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. After the murder, she reported to her CIA bosses that she had identified a trio of witnesses who could tie Kennedy’s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, to Cuban diplomats and spies in Mexico City, where Oswald had traveled just weeks before the assassination.

What did June Cobb know at the time? Historians of the Cold War—and anyone with an interest in JFK’s 1963 assassination and the possibility of Cuban involvement—are on the verge of learning much more about the extraordinary, often bizarre, sometimes tragic life of the American spy who was born Viola June Cobb, the full name that appeared on her birth certificate back home in Ponca City, Oklahoma, in 1927. The National Archives has recently acknowledged that it is preparing to release a 221-page file of long-secret CIA documents about Cobb that—for reasons the Archives says it cannot yet divulge—are somehow linked to JFK’s murder.

Feature continues here:  CIA’s Spy Tied Cubans to JFK Assassination

 

New York City To Honor Cuban-Trained Puerto Rican Terrorist 3

Melisssa Mark-Viverito (center) leads a demonstration for freeing Oscar Lopez Rivera. (Photo by Robert Miller)

Puerto Rican Day Parade Honors The Terrorists Who Killed My Father

By Joseph Connor, New York Post

Officials last week announced plans to honor unrepentant terrorist leader Oscar Lopez Rivera as their first ever “National Freedom Hero” at this year’s National Puerto Rican Day Parade on June 11.

The words “disgrace” and “outrage” do not come close to describing the insanity, insult and pain that honoring this terrorist thug brings to our family, the families of all FALN victims and all Americans. The idea is truly sickening.

New York City was the epicenter for the most horrific of the 120-plus bombings by Lopez’s Puerto Rican terrorist group, the Armed Forces for National Liberation (FALN). One of those bombings killed our 33-year-old father, Frank Connor, and three other innocent people.

Why would anyone in New York salute this man — particularly in the midst of our nation’s war on terrorists? Worse, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito chose to make this Alice-in-Wonderland announcement at One World Observatory, the very site of the most horrific terror attack in our nation’s history.

It’s also where my father’s godson, Steve Schlag, was murdered, along with 3,000 other civilians and the true hero first-responders. And where a threat by Lopez’s FALN prompted an evacuation of the World Trade Center in 1977.

And consider: Lopez refused President Bill Clinton’s 1999 clemency grant and chose to stay in prison rather than renounce violence. Yet President Barack Obama offered an unconditional second offer of clemency to Lopez just before leaving office. He’ll be freed next week.

Then the city in which our father was born, raised, worked and was murdered — a city bloodied by the most savage of all terrorist attacks on 9/11 — will play host to honoring him. What’s going on?

From 1974 to 1983, the FALN waged a merciless, bloody war against the United States, attacking civilians mainly in New York and Chicago. On Jan. 24, 1975, the FALN launched its most deadly attack, the infamous lunchtime bombing of Fraunces Tavern — murdering my father and three other innocent men. It was supposed to be the day we would celebrate my brother’s 11th birthday, and my 9th.

An FALN communique that day took credit for the attack, calling it a blow against “reactionary corporate executives.” In fact, my dad was born to immigrants and raised in working-class Washington Heights, very near where several of the FALN members were from.

In the early ’80s, 11 FALN members were arrested, tried and convicted of (among other serious felonies) weapons possession and seditious conspiracy. Lopez was convicted in 1981 and sentenced for crimes including seditious conspiracy, interference with interstate commerce by threats or violence, carrying firearms during the commission of those two crimes and interstate transportation of stolen vehicles.

Feature continues here:  Cuban-Sponsored Terrorist