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‘Havana syndrome’ isn’t linked to foreign nations, CIA says

‘Havana syndrome’ — a mysterious illness many operatives have experienced — continues to mystify

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Tourists ride classic convertible in Havana, Cuba.

In this Oct. 3, 2017, file photo, tourists ride classic convertible cars on the Malecon beside the United States Embassy in Havana, Cuba. The Biden administration faces increasing pressure to respond to a sharply growing number of reported injuries suffered by diplomats, intelligence officers and military personnel that some suspect are caused by devices that emit waves of energy that disrupt brain function. The problem has been labeled the “Havana syndrome.”

Desmond Boylan, Associated Press

It looks like “Havana syndrome” — a mysterious sickness felt by U.S. personnel, who have reported painful physical symptoms — isn’t the work of some foreign nation, the Central Intelligence Agency said this week.

  • Symptoms often include “ear-popping, vertigo, pounding headaches and nausea” as well as an odd “piercing directional noise,” according to CNN.

The news: The CIA said Thursday that a foreign country probably isn’t orchestrating a massive sickness against U..S personnel, The Washington Post reports.

  • “We assess it is unlikely that a foreign actor, including Russia, is conducting a sustained, worldwide campaign harming U.S. personnel with a weapon or mechanism,” a CIA official told The Washington Post.

Why this matters: For years, officials have linked “Havana syndrome” to foreign countries, suggesting that Russia may be to blame for the mysterious illness.

Yes, but: The official said that there’s still a possibility “that a foreign power could be responsible for cases that cannot be attributed to medical conditions or other factors,” according to The Washington Post.

Flashback: Back in early 2021, federal officials said they were investing at least two “mysterious, invisible attacks” where an invisible force made people sick, as I reported for the Deseret News.

  • The “investigators still haven’t completely ruled out the possibility that the symptoms are caused by some kind of naturally occurring phenomenon rather than a weapon,” CNN reported at the time.
  • Reports of these symptoms have floated out before then. For example, one White House official said she suffered odd physical symptoms while walking her dog, according to GQ magazine.
  • More recently, Vice President Kamala Harris delayed a trip to Hanoi, Vietnam, after a “report of a recent possible anomalous health incident,” according to CNN. This was linked to “Havana syndrome,” too.