The Mysterious Attack on U.S. Diplomats in Havana

The Mysterious Attack on U.S. Diplomats in Havana

An investigation by the FBI has so far failed turn up the answer to who attacked twenty-one U.S. diplomats and five Canadian diplomats in Cuba. The attack was a sonic attack which caused dizziness, confusion, and deafness. The attacks were made at the homes of diplomats as well as hotels where they were staying. U.S. intelligence agenices have yet to confirm that the attack was an indeed a sonar attack, though.

Cuban President Raul Castro met with Jeffrey DeLaurentis, the head of the Havana embassy for the United States, on Friday in order to ensure him that the Cuban government played no role whatsoever.

Cuban denials have not stopped prominent Amerian politicians from demanding further answers and pointing out that the safety of the diplomats were the responsibility of Cuba while they were in the country. A group of five Republican senators have written a letter to the State Department, which reads in part:


“We also demand that all Cuban diplomats accredited to the US be immediately declared persona non grata and that the US embassy in Havana be closed if Cuba does not take tangible measures.”

Two theories have emerged as the most likely. The first theory is that dissidents in Cuban intelligence executed the operation drive a wedge between the United States and Cuba as relations begin thawing. The second theory is that another party- Russia, Iran or North Korea – arranged the attack. Regardless of who was responsible, there seems to be little motive for the Cuban government to have been behind it.  “There is no reason for the government to do it. Even when relations were worse in the Bush Jr. era, there was nothing similar: there was harassment of the diplomatic staff, but never an attempt to harm them,” says William LeoGrande, an expert on Cuban affairs at the American University in Washington.

The Associated Press is reporting that the reaction to the situation by Raoul Castro has surprised some U.S. officials. In International Relations, and particularly relations between countries with a historically poor relationship, the expected reaction would have been a more defensive one, as if Cuba would feign indignation that anyone could think they were involved. Instead, Castro agreed to a rare meeting and expressed his concern over the situation and his lack of knowledge about it. The fact that a handful of FBI agents were allowed to investigate within Cuba may have been the most shocking part of the reaction.

Castro’s reaction likely suggests one of two – and potentially both – scenarios. The first is that continuing to improve the Cuban relationship with the United States is a priorty for him and second, his ignorance of entitites within his own government or others carrying out operations in Cuba is genuinely frightening to him and he seeks answers as much as the United States does.

Still, its not that likely we will ever know for certain who the culprits were. Cuban intelligence expert Brian Latell says: “I’ve never seen anything like it and I can not explain it to you. One possibility is that it was a Cuban intelligence operation that went wrong, and I think the Cuban government will have to take care of them, but if that is the case, they will never be made public and we will never find out,”said the professor and researcher at Florida International University (FIU). LeoGrande is betting on a similar outcome: “We probably will not know who, why or how he did it.”


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