News & Politics

Attacks on U.S. Embassy Personnel in Cuba and China May Have Been Microwave Weapon

Attacks on U.S. Embassy Personnel in Cuba and China May Have Been Microwave Weapon
In this Sept. 29, 2017, photo, a worker carries cardboard inside the compound of the United States embassy in Havana, Cuba, Friday, Sept. 29, 2017. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)

The reports of U.S. embassy staffers in China and Cuba suffering from symptoms similar to brain trauma may very well have been caused by weaponized microwave radiation, according to the lead researcher whose findings were published in a prestigious medical journal.

Those findings did not mention microwave radiation as the culprit in the bizarre sickness that afflicted dozens of embassy personnel last year. But Douglas H. Smith, the study’s lead author and director of the Center for Brain Injury and Repair at the University of Pennsylvania, now says researchers believe that microwaves were the cause and that the attacks caused brain injuries.

Smith told the New York Times, “Everybody was relatively skeptical at first, and everyone now agrees there’s something there.” Dr. Smith remarked “that the diplomats and doctors jokingly refer to the trauma as the immaculate concussion.”


Other scientific research has concluded that either pulsed radiofrequency or microwave radiation could have produced the effects noted by the diplomatic staff and medical personnel, Science Daily wrote this week. One peer-reviewed paper by University of California, San Diego medical professor Beatrice A. Golomb that will be published in Neural Computationin September argues that the reported symptoms are similar to those reported in other little-understood maladies related to RF/MW exposure.

Instead of an actual sound, the Times added, victims could be suffering auditory delusions from microwave radiation exposure—a phenomenon called the Frey Effect, named after 83-year-old scientist Allan H. Frey. Concentrated microwave radiation, when directed at the signal-processing auditory cortexes of each of the brain’s human temporal lobes, can trigger the perception of audio even in deaf people. One key piece of evidence: Some staff who heard the noises said that they could not stop it by covering their ears.

This certainly sounds plausible, but until we find such a weapon, it will continue to be speculative to claim that microwaves were to blame.

At least one nation apparently has the technological sophistication to build an advanced weapon:

Frey told the Times that Russian personnel were interested in developing technologies that could exploit these effects on humans, dubbing them psychophysical and psychotronic weapons. (At one point, he added, Russian intelligence personnel escorted him to a lab where they were building some.) However, U.S. researchers have claimed they could use the Frey Effect to beam intelligible signals (i.e. language) directly into the heads of test subjects, the paper wrote. The Pentagon build a terrifying weapon called the Active Denial System, which causes burning sensations on skin, using related technology.

Why Cuba and China? The governments of Cuba and China might either turn a blind eye to Russian experiments on Americans or actually give their consent.

Trump responded to the attack by withdrawing most of our staff from the embassy in Cuba. We also issued a warning to tourists and other Americans working in China. But there’s really nothing to do about it — except, perhaps, respond with our own weaponized microwave system. That would probably put a stop to the attacks very quickly.