Associated Press Reports Sonic Attacks in Cuba May Have Begun Years Earlier Than Claimed By White House 1

The view from Chris Allen’s room at Hotel Capri in Havana in April 2014. (Chris Allen / Associated Press)

U.S. Tourist, FBI Agent May Have Been Victims of Cuba Sonic Attacks

(Associated Press) Chris Allen’s phone started buzzing as word broke last month that invisible attacks in Cuba had hit a U.S. government worker at Havana’s Hotel Capri. Allen’s friends and family had heard an eerily similar story from him before.

Allen, from South Carolina, had cut short his trip to Cuba two years earlier after numbness spread through all four of his limbs within minutes of climbing into bed at the same hotel where U.S. Embassy and other government workers were housed. And those weren’t the only parallels with the latest reports. Convinced the incidents must be related, Allen joined a growing list of private U.S. citizens asking the same alarming but unanswerable question: Were we victims, too?

It may be that Allen’s unexplained illness, which lingered for months and bewildered a half-dozen neurologists in the United States, bears no connection to whatever has harmed at least 22 American diplomats, intelligence agents and their spouses over the last year. But for Cuba and the U.S., it matters all the same.

It’s cases like Allen’s that illustrate the essential paradox of Havana’s mystery: If you can’t say what the attacks are, how can you say what they’re not?

With no answers about the weapon, culprit or motive, the U.S. and Cuba have been unable to prevent the attacks from becoming a runaway crisis. As the United States warns its citizens to stay away from Cuba, there are signs that spring breakers, adventure seekers and retirees already are reconsidering trips to the island. After years of cautious progress, U.S.-Cuban relations are now at risk of collapsing entirely.

That delicate rapprochement hadn’t even started to take hold in April 2014 when Allen felt numbness overtake his body on his first night in the Havana hotel.

“It was so noticeable and it happened so quickly that it was all I could focus on and it really, really frightened me,” said Allen, a 37-year-old who works in finance.

The Associated Press reviewed more than 30 pages of medical records, lab results, travel agency records and contemporaneous emails, some sent from Havana, provided by Allen. They tell the story of an American tourist who fell ill under baffling circumstances in the Cuban capital, left abruptly, then spent months and thousands of dollars undergoing medical tests as his symptoms continued to recur.

One troubling fact is true for tourists and embassy workers alike: There’s no test to definitively say who was attacked with a mysterious, unseen weapon and whose symptoms might be entirely unrelated. The United States hasn’t disclosed what criteria prove its assertion that 22 embassy workers and their spouses are “medically confirmed” victims.

So it’s no surprise that even the U.S. government has struggled to sort through confusing signs of possible attacks, odd symptoms, and incidents that could easily be interpreted as coincidences.

LA Times feature continues here:  Did Sonic Attacks Begin in 2014?

 

 

 

The view from Chris Allen’s room at Hotel Capri in Havana in April 2014. (Chris Allen / Associated Press)

Advertisements

Cuban Military Court Sentences US Citizen to 13 Years in Prison for Alleged Espionage Reply

According to a source related to the case, the couple was being investigated by Cuban counterintelligence after suspicions arose that they were providing classified information that could jeopardize state security. (Twitter)

By Karina Martín – Pan Am Post

A military court in Havana, Cuba has sentenced a US citizen and her husband, a former Cuban diplomat, to a long-term prison sentence for crimes of espionage.

According to a source related to the case, the couple was being investigated by Cuban counterintelligence after suspicions arose that they were providing classified information that could jeopardize state security.

Alina López Miyares was detained last January at Havana airport as she was preparing to travel to Miami, Florida. Her husband, Félix Martín Milanés Fajardo, had been arrested the month prior, in December.

Both were tried on October 2 after the court date had been postponed twice. The delay caused the Cuban justice’s decision to take place just three days after the United States decided to withdraw most of their diplomatic staff from its embassy in Havana.

The family of the accused could have get the trial waved, according to a source consulted by the newspaper Martí Noticias. The mother of López Miyares, a resident of Miami, was able to see her daughter at the entrance of the court, but could not enter the room.

“The prisoners had been instructed to change their statements in order to influence the verdict,” the same source said.

The couple, who has been married for more than 10 years, each received lengthy sentences: 13 years in prison for López Miyares and 17 years for Milanés Fajardo. The sentence will be finalized on October 24. The defendants are reportedly expected to file an appeal.

The ruling comes amid growing bilateral tensions over alleged “sonic attacks” on the island against two dozen US diplomats.

US Spies in Cuba Were Among First Victims of Mysterious Sonic ‘Attacks’ 8


The Hotel Capri in Havana is one of the sites of apparent sonic ‘attacks’ on US diplomatic personnel. Photograph: Desmond Boylan/AP

The incidents, which have caused hearing loss and brain injury, began within days of Donald Trump’s election but the motives and culprits remain obscure

(The Guardian) US intelligence operatives in Cuba were among the first and most severely affected victims of a string of baffling sonic attacks which has prompted Washington to pull out more than half of its diplomatic staff from Havana, the Associated Press has learned.

 It was not until US spies, posted to the embassy under diplomatic cover, reported hearing bizarre sounds and experiencing even stranger physical effects that the United States realized something was wrong, individuals familiar with the situation said.

 The attacks started within days of Donald Trump’s surprise election win in November, but the precise timeline remains unclear, including whether intelligence officers were the first victims hit or merely the first victims to report it. The US has called the situation “ongoing”.

 To date, the Trump administration has largely described the 21 victims as US embassy personnel or “members of the diplomatic community”. That description suggested only bona fide diplomats and their family members were struck, with no logical motivation beyond disrupting US-Cuban relations.

Behind the scenes, though, investigators immediately started searching for explanations in the darker, rougher world of spycraft and counterespionage, given that so many of the first reported cases involved intelligence workers posted to the US embassy. That revelation, confirmed to the AP by a half-dozen officials, adds yet another element of mystery to a year-long saga that the Trump administration says may not be over.

The state department and the CIA declined to comment for this story.

The first disturbing reports of piercing, high-pitched noises and inexplicable ailments pointed to someone deliberately targeting the US government’s intelligence network on the communist-run island, in what seemed like a bone-chilling escalation of the tit-for-tat spy games that Washington and Havana have waged over the last half centuryBut the US soon discovered that actual diplomats at the embassy had also been hit by similar attacks, officials said, further confounding the search for a culprit and a motive.

Of the 21 confirmed cases, American spies suffered some of the most acute damage, including brain injury and hearing loss that has not healed, said several US officials who were not authorized to speak publicly on the investigation and demanded anonymity. They heard an unsettling sound inside and in some cases outside their Havana homes, described as similar to loud crickets. Then they fell ill.

Over time, the attacks seemed to evolve.

Feature continues here:  “US Spies Were Targets of “Sonic Attacks”

 

 

 

 

 

 

U.S. Diplomats, Families in Cuba Targeted Nearly 50 Times by Mysterious Sonic Attacks: Official 2

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

 

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