CIA Says Foreign Power Not Responsible for Most Havana Syndrome Attacks

CIA Says Foreign Power Not Responsible for Most Havana Syndrome Attacks U.S. Embassy building People with Cuban and Communist flags take part in a caravan organized by the Union of Young Communists "for love, peace and solidarity", past the U.S. Embassy building in Havana on Aug. 5, 2021. (AFP via Getty Images)

By Charlie McCarthy | Thursday, 20 January 2022 10:33 AM

A new CIA intelligence assessment says hundreds of mysterious Havana Syndrome cases are not the result of a sustained global campaign by a hostile power, NBC News reported.

The agency has found plausible alternative explanations in most of the cases aimed at U.S. diplomats and spies, sources told NBC News.

However, the CIA cannot rule out foreign involvement in about two dozen cases, including many of the cases that originated at the U.S. Embassy in Havana beginning in 2016, sources told NBC News.

Another group of cases is considered unresolved.

"Even two dozen cases is a lot of cases if Americans were attacked," one person told NBC News.

The Wall Street Journal last week reported that U.S. diplomats in Paris and Geneva are suspected of having been afflicted with the Havana Syndrome, a neurological ailment that leaves people with headaches, dizziness, and memory loss.

Sources told NBC News that Havana Syndrome victims expressed disappointment after being briefed on the assessment that Russia or another foreign power likely had not targeted them.

The news outlet added that some victims pointed out that the CIA's findings are considered an interim assessment and that they were not coordinated with other agencies, including the Department of Defense.

"CIA just kind of struck out on their own," one person told NBC News.

DOJ, the FBI and the State Department are working to investigate the origins of the syndrome and how to mitigate it, the officials told NBC News.

The White House National Security Council also has convened a task force involving outside medical and scientific experts to examine Havana Syndrome.

Beginning in late 2016, U.S. diplomats and spies serving in Cuba began reporting bizarre sounds and sensations followed by unexplained illnesses and symptoms, including hearing and vision loss, memory and balance problems, headaches and nausea.

Hundreds of U.S. officials since then have reported suspected incidents in more than a dozen countries, NBC News reported.

Intelligence officials in 2018 considered Russia a leading suspect in what had been considered deliberate attacks on diplomats and CIA officers overseas, NBC News reported. But since then, spy agencies have not found sufficient evidence to pinpoint the cause or the culprit of the health incidents.