For months, mystery has surrounded the strange symptoms — including hearing loss, brain injuries, sleep disturbances, and nausea — suffered by U.S. diplomats in Cuba. The State Department eventually pulled half of Havana’s embassy staff back to the U.S while acknowledging that around 50 attacks occurred. The incidents were reported as “sonic attacks,” and authorities still really don’t know what caused the diplomats injuries. However, the Associated Press has now released a recording — of the sound that some embassy workers say they heard — around the time their symptoms began.
Once the AP tweeted news of the release, the inevitable Nickelback jokes began to surface on Twitter, but the matter is all too serious. If you choose to listen to the sounds, the recording can be heard right here — it’s truly bizarre to witness. The ominous track contains a high-frequency whine with some cricket-like undertones. Indeed, it’s not hard to imagine why U.S. officials immediately suspected sonic attacks, but ultimately, the recording is only the beginning of this investigation:
The recordings from Havana have been sent for analysis to the U.S. Navy, which has advanced capabilities for analyzing acoustic signals, and to the intelligence services, the AP has learned. But the recordings have not significantly advanced U.S. knowledge about what is harming diplomats. Officials say the government still doesn’t know what is responsible for injuries to its personnel, but the U.S. has faulted Cuba for failing to protect American diplomats on its soil.
Other factors in this story involve unequivocal denials from the Cuban government that they had knowledge of or were involved in any such attacks. And further complicating matters, some embassy personnel may have heard different sounds, although all describe what they heard to be “unnerving” and certainly “deliberate” in nature. The AP notes that they have listened to multiple recordings, and most are similar to the one they released, but the U.S. Navy will likely weigh in after further analysis.
The exact timeline of these injuries are also difficult to pinpoint, although they began after Obama’s historic Havana visit (in 2016), which was geared toward repairing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba. The resulting normalization was geared toward economic prosperity for both countries, but given that the U.S. government has now issued a travel advisory for civilians, it seems that some nefarious entity has hindered these goals. The State Department will continue to investigate the matter.