‘So strange and bizarre’

Mys­tery of the sonic at­tack on diplo­mats deep­ens

Metro Canada (Edmonton) - - Canada - TOrSTAr nEWS SEr­VICE

It’s a sonic who­dunit, with in­ter­na­tional rip­ples.

Cana­dian and U.S. diplo­mats serv­ing in Cuba have been af­flicted by a weird sonic blast that has af­fected their health and put po­lice agen­cies in both coun­tries on the trail for the cul­prit.

“A con­spir­acy the­o­rist could have a field day,” said a for­mer Cana­dian diplo­mat fa­mil­iar with Cuba.

“This has been so strange and bizarre from the very be­gin­ning,” he said, speak­ing on back­ground be­cause of the sen­si­tiv­ity of the is­sue.

In March, Canada’s for­eign af­fairs depart­ment be­gan to hear re­ports about “bizarre” symp­toms — headaches, nose­bleeds, dizzi­ness, ring­ing in the ears — af­fect­ing a num­ber of its diplo­mats work­ing in Havana.

Cana­dian diplo­mats as well as fam­ily mem­bers were af­fected in the in­ci­dents, sug­gest­ing that res­i­dences may have been tar­geted as well as of­fi­cial em­bassy build­ings.

A Cana­dian gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial, who spoke on back­ground, de­clined to give to firm num­bers on how many were af­fected but said, “it was not a one-off.”

But he said Cana­di­ans in­volved in the in­ci­dents are in “fine health” now and there has not been a re­oc­cur­rence.

“Clearly, what­ever hap­pened af­fected the Amer­i­cans more deeply,” the of­fi­cial said.

It’s not clear whether it was some form of elec­tronic sur­veil­lance gone awry or a de­lib­er­ate at­tempt to tar­get diplo­mats. Nor is it clear who is be­hind the at­tacks. Cubans? Rus­sians try­ing to make mis­chief?

How­ever, he said the Cubans have been “very ea­ger” to col­lab­o­rate with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion since be­ing alerted to the in­ci­dents.

The Royal Cana­dian Mounted Po­lice is in­ves­ti­gat­ing, work­ing in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the U.S., in­clud­ing the FBI, and Cuban of­fi­cials.

The As­so­ci­ated Press re­ported Thurs­day that 21 U.S. diplo­mats have been vic­tims in the mys­tery at­tacks. And it re­ported that the at­tacks had a “laser-like speci­ficity” seem­ingly able to tar­get spe­cific parts of a build­ing. Dur­ing the in­ci­dents, diplo­mats felt vi­bra­tions and heard noises like ring­ing, high-pitched chirp­ing, grind­ing — and some­times noth­ing at all.

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