The mysterious story regarding sonic attacks on U.S. personnel in Cuba got even more strange after it was discovered that many of the officials targeted were American intelligence operatives.
U.S. officials originally referred to the 21 victims as "members of the diplomatic community." However, the Associated Press has learned that many were actually spies, many of whom suffered some of the most severe brain and hearing injuries.
While the U.S. and Cuba have been at odds for decades, physical assaults are highly unusual.
"This really does step beyond what is considered normal for harassment. Harassment happens but in most cases it really doesn't reach the point where there's permanent injury," Dr. Vince Houghton, the curator of the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., told Circa.
The Cuban government has denied responsibility for the attacks.
If the Cubans were responsible, the attacks come at a strange time. They reportedly started in November, around the time of President Trump's election. President Obama had been working to improve and open up relations with Cuba at the time. A physical assault on diplomatic and intelligence personnel would only hamper the budding relationship.
Strange as the situation may be, U.S. and Cuban intelligence have long been rivals.
"They've been able to do just about whatever they've wanted to when it comes to spying on the Americans, without going and resorting to high technology and spending the amount of resources you need on something like this," said Houghton.
When asked if Russia, another famous Cold War adversary, may have been involved, Houghton could not say definitively, but he noted that the Cubans and Russians have had a long relationship when it comes to intelligence. He also suggested it could have been a new technology test gone awry.
Despite Cuba's assurances that it was not involved, the Trump administration has issued warnings against traveling to the country. It has also cut its embassy staff in Havana by half, and has kicked out 15 Cuban diplomats working in the U.S.