The unusual attacks on U.S. personnel in Havana targeted the heart of America’s spy network in Cuba, The Associated Press has learned.
AP on Monday reported that U.S. intelligence operatives were among the first and most severely affected victims in the attacks.
Individuals familiar with the situation said that U.S. spies posted to their nation’s embassy in Havana under diplomatic cover were among the first to realize something was wrong there.
The spies reported hearing bizarre sounds and experiencing even stranger physical effects, tipping the U.S. off that something was amiss with the situation.
The precise timeline of the attacks remains unclear, but they started within days of President Trump’s White House win last November.
It is also uncertain if American intelligence officers were the first victims or merely the first victims to report it.
Some Twitter users on Monday speculated about the attacks, of which there have been 21 confirmed cases.
@terrig103Obama was celebrating and dancing in Cuba after terror attacks. How’s that for sensitivity still would not say Islamic terrorism!— Larry Collins (@LarryCo83275841) October 2, 2017
Trump’s administration has to-date largely characterized the 21 victims as U.S. embassy personnel or “members of the diplomatic community.”
Six officials confirmed to AP, however, that investigators immediately focused on the spying world as many of the first reported cases involved U.S. intelligence workers in Cuba.
Several U.S. officials said of the victims, American spies suffered some of the worst harm, including brain injury and unhealed hearing loss.
Victims heard an unnerving sound inside or sometimes outside their Havana homes – compared to loud crickets – before falling ill.
Individuals briefed on the probe added that some of the more recent attacks did not feature audible noises heard by the victims.
The fact victims only identified symptoms of the attacks later has raised fears that the incidents are becoming more sophisticated and harder to detect.
The capitalist U.S. and communist Cuba have had thorny relations for decades, and the attacks are the latest sign of tensions between the two countries.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.