Reports Link ‘Havana Syndrome’ to Russia

18 Apr, 2024 Liz Carey

                               

Washington, DC (WorkersCompensation.com) – Despite an intelligence community assessment that so called “Havana Syndrome” is due to a foreign adversary, new media investigations link the health issues affecting U.S. diplomats to Russian assassination groups.

In March, the Pentagon confirmed to the Associated Press that a senior U.S. Defense Department officials who attended last year’s NATO summit in Lithuania exhibited symptoms similar to those reported by other U.S. officials with “Havana Syndrome.” The confirmation came just a day after a CBS 60 Minutes investigation concluded that Russia is behind a string of health issues experienced by federal officials going back nearly eight years.

In 2016, officials working at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba, reported unexplained phenomenon from strange and high- and low-frequency sounds, or feeling like they’ve been hit by an invisible blast wave. The U.S. government refers to the incidents as “Anomalous Health Incidents,” that cover a range of conditions including dizziness, headache, fatigue, nausea, anxiety, cognitive difficulties and memory loss of varying severity.

Since then, the incidents have spread to embassies all over the world, including China, Austria and Serbia. As a result of these health incidents, some diplomats and intelligence officers have left active service. The majority of the reports of Havana Syndrome occur in employees in the CIA and U.S. State Department serving overseas, but the illnesses and injuries have affected personnel in other agencies, including the U.S. Departments of Defense and Commerce.

And in recent years, federal officials have gone back and forth over the real cause. The U.S. State Department has said the symptoms are “consistent with the effects of directed, pulsed, radio frequency energy,” but that there is no concrete information on who or what could be responsible for the attack.

While there is no consensus on what causes the syndrome, an expert committee from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found that directed pulsed RF energy appears to be the most plausible cause, but that it could also have been caused by ultrasound, pesticides, or mass psychogenic illness.

Last year, after a two-year investigation, seven U.S. intelligence agencies told the Washington Post there was “no credible evidence” that any foreign adversary to the U.S. possessed a weapon capable of causing the syndrome, and that the illnesses and injuries were more probably caused by pre-existing conditions, conventional illnesses and environmental factors.

But on March 31, a 60 Minutes report said that the incidents likely started two years earlier in Frankfurt, Germany, when a “U.S. government employee stationed at the consulate there was knocked unconscious” by what they described as a strong energy beam. The victim was later diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury and identified a Russian assassination operative.

The next day, deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh told reporters that a senior DOD official experienced symptoms similar to AHI. Singh said the official was in Vilnius, Lithuania attending meetings that were part of the NATO summit. Singh would not comment on whether the officials were seeking further treatment or had ceased to perform their duties, citing medical privacy.

This year, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, in its 2024 threat assessment, found that it was “unlikely” a foreign adversary was responsible for the attacks, but noted that U.S intelligence agencies varied in their levels of confidence over that assessment.

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters on April 1 that the department has confidence in that assessment.

“It has been the broad conclusion of the intelligence community since March 2023 that is unlikely a foreign adversary is responsible for these anomalous health incidents,” Miller said. “It’s something that the intelligence community has investigated extensively and continues to look at. We will look at new information as it comes in and make assessments inside the State Department and with our intelligence community.”

Also this month, two major National Institutes of Health studies looked at the conditions of more than 80 government employees and family members who had reported AHI symptoms and found no consistent evidence of brain injury.

However, in an editorial in the Journal of American Medical Association, David Relman, a Stanford University scientist who’s led previous research into the condition, said other studies he was involved in "found the cases with abrupt-onset, location-dependent sensory phenomena to be unlike any disorder reported in the neurological or general medical literature, and potentially caused by an external mechanism."


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    About The Author

    • Liz Carey

      Liz Carey has worked as a writer, reporter and editor for nearly 25 years. First, as an investigative reporter for Gannett and later as the Vice President of a local Chamber of Commerce, Carey has covered everything from local government to the statehouse to the aerospace industry. Her work as a reporter, as well as her work in the community, have led her to become an advocate for the working poor, as well as the small business owner.

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