A recent intelligence assessment couldn't determine what caused the unexplained brain injuries suffered by diplomats, spies, and other government workers at home and abroad, or why the victims were potentially targeted.
As many as 200 Americans have come forward to report possible symptoms of what seems to be a directed energy attack, according to NBC News. The people who reported these symptoms complained about hearing a loud sound and feeling pressure in their heads. They also experienced dizziness, unsteady gait, and visual disturbances. Many also seem to suffer long-standing debilitating effects.
Called the "Havana Syndrome," some U.S. officials suspect this could be an unintentional byproduct of foreign efforts to collect intelligence from U.S. government employees’ electronic devices, per another report by NBC News from June 2021. Now there are concerns that America’s enemies may have weaponized the tactic to intentionally cause physical harm.
A U.S. official with knowledge about new potential cases of the Havana Syndrome said that there have been cables coming in from overseas, multiple times, during the past few weeks. Another person who has just been briefed about recent incidents said, "It is global — but there seems to be an awful lot going on in Europe." Now, officials who have direct knowledge about what's happening say there are cases being reported in almost all continents of the world, with the exception of Antarctica.
About two dozen U.S. government officials in Vienna have reported Havana Syndrome-like symptoms. What is happening in the Austrian capital? https://t.co/yt7mpArA7c— The New Yorker (@NewYorker) July 16, 2021
About half of the possible cases involve CIA officers or their relatives. Around 60 involve Defense Department employees or relatives, and nearly 50 were linked to the State Department.
Sources also said that a number of FBI officials—both current and ex-employees—have come forward to say they've been experiencing these symptoms, especially while they were overseas. Several FBI employees reported to officials that they were hit in Vienna, which shockingly included a few possible cases, dating back more than a decade.
A recent U.S. intelligence assessment, backed by the Biden administration, couldn't determine what caused the unexplained brain injuries suffered by diplomats, spies, and other government workers at home and abroad, or why the victims were potentially targeted, according to one current and two former officials. However, the administration officials said that the government employees were encouraged to come forward if they had experienced symptoms.
The mysterious "Havana Syndrome" illness, which some intelligence officials believe might be a microwave attack by foreign actors, has claimed another 20 U.S. diplomatic and intelligence personnel victims abroad since President Joe Biden took office. https://t.co/CqcRaOUKLM— Newsmax (@newsmax) July 18, 2021
The administration also issued a warning that people who don't come forward to report the symptoms will end up being considered Havana Syndrome cases.
A senior administration official said: "In certain cases, these incidents have upended the lives of U.S. personnel who have devoted their careers to serving our country. Our government recognizes how important it is to make sure they get the care they deserve and that we get to the bottom of this as quickly as possible."
Officials have said they do not know what explains the mysterious neurological symptoms first experienced by U.S. diplomats in Cuba in 2016. U.S. diplomats and other government workers stationed in Havana—which is why it's called the "Havana Syndrome"— reported feeling strange symptoms, after hearing strange high and low-pitched sounds and experiencing bizarre physical sensations.
The incidents caused hearing, balance, and cognitive changes along with mild traumatic brain injury, otherwise known as concussion, which physicians confirmed with the help of advanced imaging. A 2020 report by the National Academies of Sciences found that the symptoms were consistent with the effects of directed microwave energy, and officials believe Russia is behind the suspected attacks, but there is no conclusive evidence.
The academies also said that a team of medical and scientific experts who studied the symptoms of as many as 40 State Department and other government employees stated that nothing like this had previously been documented in the medical literature.
Also, in public, they avoid using the word "attack" and choose to replace it with "anomalous health incidents." Former CIA officer Marc Polymeropoulos, who believes he was hit during a trip to Moscow in 2017, said what has happened is "a mass casualty event."
U.S. intelligence agencies are now combing through data to seek clues, including records of cellphone calls and geolocation data around the times and places of reported events, officials say. There are concerns that the incidents, still unsolved more than four years after they came to light, may happen even in the future. So, government agencies have refocused efforts on "mitigation" — finding ways to lower the risk to staffers — as well as detection to identify when an attack might be taking place.
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Photo by Samuel Corum