The Associated Press has released audio of the “sonic attack” that has injured dozens of Americans in Cuba. While the source of the sound itself has yet to be confirmed, American officials believe it came from a “sonic weapon” the Cuban government likely used on embassy employees in their homes.
A video featuring the sound is included below.
The sound itself, a high-pitched tone that sounds strangely like crickets, wouldn’t strike the listener as harmful, but officials with the U.S. government say it has caused a number of physical effects on Americans working at the American Embassy in Havana, Cuba. Reportedly, many who heard it have suffered damage to their sight or hearing, and even balance issues. In nearly every case, the sounds were heard in the homes of American embassy employees.
The Cuban government has denied any responsibility for the sonic attack. 22 Americans have reportedly been injured so far.
The Associated Press has obtained a recording of what some US Embassy workers heard in Havana, part of the series of unnerving incidents later deemed to be deliberate attacks. The recording, released Thursday by the AP, is the first disseminated publicly of the many taken in Cuba of sounds that led investigators initially to suspect a sonic weapon.
The recordings from Havana have been sent for analysis to the US 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 US knowledge about what is harming diplomats. Officials say the government still doesn’t know what is responsible for injuries to its personnel, but the US has faulted Cuba for failing to protect American diplomats on its soil.
The Navy and the State Department did not respond to requests for comment on the recording. Cuba has denied involvement in or knowledge of the attacks.
Not all Americans injured in Cuba heard sounds. Of those who did, it’s not clear they heard precisely the same thing.
Yet the AP has reviewed several recordings from Havana taken under different circumstances, and all have variations of the same high-pitched sound. Individuals who have heard the noise in Havana confirm the recordings are generally consistent with what they heard.
“That’s the sound,” one of them said.
The recording being released by the AP has been digitally enhanced to increase volume and reduce background noise, but has not been otherwise altered.
The sound seemed to manifest in pulses of varying lengths — seven seconds, 12 seconds, two seconds — with some sustained periods of several minutes or more. Then there would be silence for a second, or 13 seconds, or four seconds, before the sound abruptly started again.
Whether there’s a direct relationship between the sound and the physical damage suffered by the victims is unclear. The US says that in general, the attacks caused hearing, cognitive, visual, balance, sleep and other problems.
A closer examination of one recording reveals it’s not just a single sound. Roughly 20 or more different frequencies, or pitches, are embedded in it, the AP discovered using a spectrum analyzer, which measures a signal’s frequency and amplitude.
Here is a video clip from CBS News featuring audio of the “sonic attack” sound.