‘Havana syndrome’ not caused by foreign adversary

Havana syndrome links mystery illness to Russian intelligence unit

HAVANA, March 1st The mysterious set of symptoms known as “Havana syndrome” was not caused by an energy weapon or foreign adversary, US intelligence has concluded.

The assessment concludes a multi-year investigation into approximately 1,000 “anomalous health incidents” (AHIs) among US diplomats, spies and other employees in US embassies and missions around the world.

Victims reported brain injuries, hearing loss, vertigo and strange auditory sensations, among other symptoms. Many suspected they had been victims of a targeted attack using some kind of directed energy weapon.

Of the seven intelligence agencies that undertook the investigation, five determined that “available intelligence consistently points against the involvement of US adversaries in causing the reported incidents”, according to an unclassified version of the report released on Wednesday by the House intelligence committee.

Those five agencies deemed foreign adversary involvement “very unlikely”. One considered it “unlikely” and one declined to state a conclusion.

The assessment involved a painstaking effort to analyze syndrome cases for patterns that could link them, as well as a search, using forensics and geolocation data, for evidence of a directed energy weapon, unnamed officials told the Post.

“There was nothing,” one official said.

The officials told the Post they were open to new evidence that a foreign adversary had developed an energy weapon, but did not believe Russia or any other adversary was involved in these cases.

According to the AP, which was briefed on the assessment on Wednesday, in some cases, the US was able to detect confusion and suspicion among adversarial governments who thought reports of the syndrome might be some kind of US plot.

The intelligence agencies “judge that there is no credible evidence that a foreign adversary has a weapon or collection device that is causing AHIs”, according to the unclassified report.

That assessment contradicted a 2022 report by a panel of expert scientists that identified pulsed electromagnetic energy and ultrasound as possible explanations for “Havana syndrome” illnesses.

The panel was convened in 2021 by the director of national intelligence and the director of the CIA. It found that some cases could not be explained by health or environmental factors, and suggested devices existed that could produce such symptoms.

But the unclassified report suggests that initial medical studies that led experts to believe that the AHIs “represented a novel medical syndrome or consistent pattern of injuries” suffered from “methodological limitations”.

It also states that early analyses of suspected incidents in Cuba in 2016 and 2018 included “critical assumptions” that “were not borne out by subsequent medical and technical analysis.

“In light of this and the evidence that points away from a foreign adversary, causal mechanism or unique syndrome linked to AHIs, IC agencies assess that symptoms reported by US personnel were probably the result of factors that did not involve a foreign adversary, such as preexisting conditions, conventional illnesses, and environmental factors,” the report reads.

Three agencies have “high confidence” in that assessment, three have “moderate confidence” and one has “low confidence”.

The symptoms have been debilitating for some victims. In 2021, Joe Biden signed a law to provide compensation.

Mark Zaid, an attorney representing victims from various federal agencies, appeared to anticipate the report, tweeting on Tuesday that the findings would be “very disconcerting”. He said he had already sued for the full report under the Freedom of Information Act and planned to “challenge the conclusions”.

“Until the shrouds of secrecy are lifted and the analysis that led to today’s assertions are available and subject to proper challenge, the alleged conclusions are substantively worthless,” Zaid said on Wednesday.

“It is inconceivable based on an overwhelming number of unanswered questions that today’s report will serve as the last word.”