Mysterious Havana Syndrome ‘very unlikely’ to be foreign weapon, report says

An independent review panel determined it was ‘plausible’ that some kind of energy device was causing the symptoms

Graig Graziosi
Wednesday 01 March 2023 18:31 GMT
Related video: 60 Minutes reveals what the “Havana Syndrome” weapon sounded like

Havana Syndrome, the mysterious condition that befell US diplomats and other foreign service personnel, is not the fault of international adversaries, according to a recent report.

An inter-agency intelligence analysis targeted the causes of the so-called illness, which reportedly left sufferers with painful, and inexplicable, sensations.

The symptoms are severe enough that some of the afflicted have quit jobs and sought hospitalisation and mental health services to help them process trauma.

Many of those who suffer the symptoms have expressed a belief that they were targeted, leading some to theorise that America's adversaries had developed a "directed energy weapon" that caused their ailments, according to The Washington Post.

Five of the seven agencies working on the analysis determined it was "very unlikely" that a foreign adversary had such a weapon, with a sixth saying it was simply "unlikely," and the seventh abstaining from an opinion. Sources close to the study spoke with The Washington Post about the report on condition of anonymity, as the full analysis has not yet been released.

The review examined 1,000 cases of what the government is calling "anomalous health incidents," which include symptoms like ear ringing, nausea, pressure in the head, and acute discomfort.

The cause of the strange symptoms has been an open question since the first Havana Syndrome case was identified in 2016. The inter-agency investigation spent years examining the cases, but found there to be no pattern or common set of core conditions that could reliably mark a case of Havana Syndrome.

Investigators also found that, in some cases, there was no clear line of sight to the victims, making it impossible for a device using radio or ultrasonic waves to cause the associated symptoms.

Because the majority of individuals reporting the symptoms were working for the US government in secure facilities, investigators were able to review data collected from those locations to search for any sign of malicious activity, but found no evidence.

An audio visualization shows the sound American diplomats heard in Cuba before falling ill with the ‘Havana syndrome' (AP)

"There was nothing," an official told The Washington Post.

The agency's findings run contrary to those of an independent panel assembled at the behest of the intelligence community to examine the illnesses. That group determined that it was plausible that an external energy source could cause the symptoms, theorizing that a "pulsed electromagnetic energy" device could have been used.

That panel also ruled out "psychosocial" causes for the ailments, saying they alone could not "account for the core characteristics, although they may cause some other incidents or contribute to long-term symptoms."

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine also studied the illnesses and determined that such a device could be a plausible culprit.

The Biden administration has committed to providing healthcare for those afflicted with the symptoms, according to Maher Bitar, the senior director for intelligence programs on the National Security Council.

“Since the start of the Biden-Harris Administration, we have focused on ensuring that our colleagues have access to the care and support they need. … Our commitment to the health and safety of U.S. Government personnel remains unwavering,” he said in a statement.

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