For several years, American diplomats and others Posted people have been harassed What gradually became known as the “Havana Syndrome”. Symptoms ranged from nausea, dizziness, headache, and nosebleeds, and many reported a strange sound — or pressure — before symptoms appeared.
For a long time, there was a great deal of uncertainty and skepticism about reports of mysterious symptoms in American embassies and outposts.
But the US authorities have now decided to take this phenomenon seriously.
National security authorities recently issued the following warnings to diplomats, national security personnel, and intelligence officers: “Get out of the vicinity as soon as possible if you feel pressure, sound, or heat in your head.”
Employees must also immediately report such incidents, which have been dubbed the “Havana Syndrome” because it was first detected in Cuba.
The authorities fear that this is some kind of attack.
We must believe in our employees and take accidents seriously. A senior official says people are experiencing real symptoms that have negative health consequences.
Experts have always scratched their heads to find the causes of diseases, and there have been many theories: attacks with microwaves, ultrasound, some kind of poison? There has also been a theory that the sound of crickets may have elicited physical reactions – or simply that the symptoms are caused by stress.
The authorities now say they do not believe there is any talk of “mass hysteria”.
– The physical symptoms we’ve seen in many cases are very real, an administration official confirms.
So the US Department of Defense is now asking staff to raise awareness regarding this phenomenon. They are told not to ignore the symptoms, but to take them seriously. They must be confident that the matter will be taken seriously if there is an issue, it is said.
Criticism of the Biden administration
The new signals come after growing criticism from employees who have fallen ill. They have criticized the administration of President Joe Biden for delaying in responding to the new warnings.
US officials have reported symptoms in quite different countries such as Vietnam, Austria, the United Kingdom, Cuba and China – even in the Washington area.
– This administration believes that everyone affected by abnormal health-related incidents should be heard and respected, says a senior official now.
We take every report of such incidents very seriously, and devote all resources to finding the cause of such incidents – and to identifying any foreign actors who may be behind them.
Controversy in the Trump era
In the administration of former President Donald Trump, there was disagreement over whether or not this phenomenon should be taken seriously.
In a 2018 report, commissioned by then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, it was believed that there are psychological—not physical—causes of illness. These cases involved more than 20 people at the United States Embassy in Cuba in 2016.
US officials now say the researchers behind this study have limited access to both victims and evidence.
A 2020 study from the National Academy of Sciences, also commissioned by the Trump administration, thought microwave radiation was the most likely cause. However, it was emphasized that more research was needed before one could finish.
As it turns out, those in the Trump administration who believed the phenomenon was real, suspected Russia was behind the attacks. But they left the impression that Trump didn’t want to hear about it.
“Trump was aware of that, but because of all the problems with Russian cooperation, I thought it would be against his intention to pursue it before we have something more concrete,” said John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser.
worry about scale
Democrat Adam Schiff, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, believes the issues should be taken seriously.
“I’m very concerned about how frequent these accidents are and how dangerous they are,” he says.
A senior State Department official said Biden raised the issue during a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Switzerland in June.
US authorities say the circumstances surrounding the recent cases suggest there may be a greater strategic objective behind them – and that it is not “just” a matter of individual disorder and disease.
Officials say that while progress has been made in the investigation, they are far from drawing any general conclusions.
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