The so-called Havana Syndrome remains a mystery. The U.S. intelligence community this Wednesday acknowledged to the media that they still have no idea where it came from and have been unable to link it to foreign adversaries.
The trouble started in 2016, and for years there has been speculation that either Russia or Cuba could be behind the mysterious “attacks.”
There is evidence, officials say, that foreign countries were not involved. In some cases, the United States detected a level of confusion between adversary governments about the accusations, and suspicions that it was a U.S. plot.
This new assertion, first published by CNN and The Washington Post, and later confirmed by the State Department, ruled it unlikely that the reported illness was the result of a campaign led by an enemy of Washington.
At the daily press briefing, State Department spokesman Ned Price, said that there is no common denominator among all those affected, since some cases can be explained by natural causes, others by environmental effects and some are yet to be determined.
However, he stressed that the Biden administration remains committed to continuing to provide the necessary health care for those officials who continue to be affected by associated ailments.
This conclusion, which for the moment is definitive although it does not prevent new data from appearing in the future, echoes an interim report from the CIA last year: it was unlikely that “abnormal health incidents,” as they are formally known, were caused by “a sustained global campaign” by Russia or any other foreign actor.
The assessment also goes further than expected in finding that there is no credible evidence that a foreign adversary has a weapon or collection device capable of causing the mysterious incidents, officials told The Washington Post.
In effect, the mysterious disease was first reported in late 2016 during the Obama administration, when a group of diplomats stationed in the Cuban capital, both American and Canadian, began reporting symptoms consistent with head trauma, dizziness, and extreme headaches. In subsequent years, cases were reported around the world, including at least 60 incidents in Bogotá, Colombia, and Vienna, Austria. Also in the U.S. capital, Washington DC.
The assessment is based on a review of hundreds of incidents and a wide range of surrounding factors, the officials said. There have also been about 1,500 reported cases in 96 different counties, including some cases this year, officials said. This data, if confirmed, would be a novelty.
With the argument of the so-called Havana Syndrome, the Trump administration withdrew most of its embassy staff in the Cuban capital and closed the bulk of consular services.
However, this assessment now does not provide definitive answers about the cause of a disease that has affected hundreds of government staff around the world.
There is no explanation for these incidents. On the other hand, there are many different possible causes: they include environmental and social factors and pre-existing medical conditions, the sources said, according to the Washington newspaper.
A former CIA agent who experienced the symptoms said that there is something counterintuitive about all of this, adding that if doctors are diagnosing some of them with brain injury in the line of duty, and they’re not saying it was a foreign adversary, then what was it? He was quoted by CNN, but not filmed.
The intelligence community’s workforce was notified of the assessment this Wednesday, authorities said. During the last few days, the victims were notified that the evaluation would be carried out. Some received a call from CIA director Bill Burns, said a source.