WASHINGTON – As many as 200 Americans have come forward to describe possible symptoms of directed energy attacks, part of a wave of new reports that include newly identified incidents around the world, according to Western officials.
A US official with knowledge of potential new cases of so-called Havana Syndrome said a constant rate of cables came from overseas posts reporting new incidents – often several times a week.
A recent and unreported incident in Berlin cut the tenure of at least one diplomat in Germany short, US officials and others with knowledge of the matter said.
Another person who was briefed on the recent incidents this month said: “It’s global, but it seems like a lot is happening in Europe.”
Officials with first-hand knowledge said there are now possible cases on all continents except Antarctica. In the past year, officials said, more than one American from Kyrgyzstan, a country in Central Asia, has shown symptoms, including a baby.
Almost half of the possible cases involve CIA agents or their relatives, two officials said, while about 60 involve Defense Department employees or relatives, and about 50 were related to the State Department.
A number of FBI agents and members – current and former – have come forward after experiencing symptoms overseas, particularly in Europe and Central Asia, sources said. Several FBI employees have reported to officials that they have been affected in Vienna, including some possible cases dating back more than a decade.
In a statement, an FBI spokesperson said: “In accordance with DOJ policy, the FBI cannot confirm or deny the existence of specific investigations. However, we will direct you to recent statements made by the director. Wray during testimony before Congress where he stressed the protection, health and well-being of U.S. government personnel is the top priority; we consider all U.S. government personnel who exhibit these symptoms as potential victims and will treat them as such, and we care deeply about our colleagues in the federal government. “
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense said: “The ministry is strongly engaged on this issue within the framework of the [National Security Council]- led a federal government-wide interagency process to address abnormal health incidents, and was fully committed to determining both cause and source. The safety, health and well-being of our staff remains a top priority for the Department. “
Biden administration officials said government employees were encouraged to come forward if they showed symptoms and warned that not all people who did should be considered La Syndrome cases. Havana.
A senior administration official said: “In some cases these incidents have turned the lives of American personnel who have dedicated 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 it as quickly as possible. “
In Vienna, officials say, at least one American has been sent home due to the severity of the symptoms. The New Yorker was the first to report up to two dozen cases in Vienna.
“With respect to Vienna, in coordination with our interagency partners, we are vigorously investigating reports of possible unexplained health incidents among the US Embassy community there, and we are also doing so wherever these incidents are reported. “State Department spokesman Ned Price. told reporters on Monday.
US officials have said they don’t know what explains the mysterious neurological symptoms first experienced by US diplomats in Cuba, and in public they avoid using the word “attack” in favor of “incidents. abnormal health “.
The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine said in a report last year that some of the brain damage seen was consistent with the effects of directed microwave energy, which the report states that the Russia has been studying for a long time.
NBC News reported in 2018 that U.S. intelligence officials view Russia as one of the prime suspects in what some see as deliberate attacks on diplomats and CIA agents abroad. But there was not – and there is not now – conclusive information pointing in that direction, said several officials who have been made aware of the case.
U.S. officials have said privately that they suspect Russia is using a microwave device either to secretly collect digital data or to intentionally injure U.S. officials as part of a harassment campaign. Russia denies.
According to the National Academies of Sciences report, a team of medical and scientific experts who studied the symptoms of up to 40 State Department and other government employees concluded that no such thing had been done. previously documented in the medical literature. Many said they heard a loud sound and felt pressure in the head, then experienced dizziness, unsteady gait, and visual disturbances. Many have suffered from long-standing debilitating effects.
Former CIA officer Marc Polymeropoulos, who believes he was shot during a trip to Moscow in 2017, said what happened was “an event with many casualties.”
CIA Director William Burns has ordered a major intelligence-gathering effort to determine the cause of the incidents, and he is committed to ensuring that employees who report them are taken seriously and received treatment.
“Director Burns is personally engaged with personnel affected by abnormal health incidents and is strongly committed to treating them and determining the cause of these incidents,” said a CIA spokesperson.
An intelligence official said: “The intelligence community has brought together a group of experts from the US government and the private sector to work collectively to better understand the possible mechanisms that are behind these anomalous health incidents. “
The State Department also has a panel of medical and scientific experts reviewing cases, and like the CIA panel, its members have access to relevant classified information.
But some U.S. government employees who reported worrying incidents in Western Europe to their State Department superiors have been met with skepticism and disbelief, three people familiar with the situation said. In a case this year that was widely discussed among U.S. diplomats, a worker reported a potential incident in Europe but was dismissed, saying he was serving in a low-risk region where U.S. agents are unlikely to be. targeted.
Some cases that initially appeared to be part of the Havana Syndrome incident cohort were later dismissed. A group of American soldiers in Syria reported symptoms after a Russian helicopter was seen flying overhead, for example, but it was determined that the troops had contracted food poisoning.
US intelligence agencies have launched a major effort to find new information. They comb through data for clues, including cell phone call records and geolocation data on times and locations of reported events, officials said. As reported by NBC News and other news outlets, the CIA used geolocation data to determine that Russian intelligence operatives were in the vicinity of the scene of some of the incidents, but the conclusion is not being considered. as conclusive, given that American officials are often under surveillance.
In an effort to centralize and improve care for injured American workers, the US government is working to ensure they have access to military medical “centers of excellence”, where Senator Jeanne Shaheen, DN.H. , introduced legislation to ensure that victims have access to specialized medical care, including at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. The government is considering selecting a leading academic institution as the acute and chronic care center for patients, three people familiar with the deliberations said. If selected, it would be the third academic institution the government would turn to for help after sending its workers to the University of Miami and then to the University of Pennsylvania.
Fearing that the incidents, still unresolved more than four years after their discovery, could continue into the future, government agencies have refocused their efforts on “mitigation” – finding ways to reduce risks to staff – as well as detection to identify when an attack could take place.
Building on the prevailing theory that pulsed microwaves affected people’s brains, the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service helped develop and deploy small physical sensing devices in Cuba and a handful of countries. ‘other posts, said three people familiar with the devices. They declined to describe them as many details remain confidential.