Approximately two dozen U.S. intelligence officials in Vienna have reported symptoms of an illness that is consistent with Havana Syndrome, a set of neurological symptoms that officials and experts believe is the result of a microwave-radiation attack, during Democrat President Joe Biden’s administration.
“U.S. officials say the number of possible new cases in the Austrian capital—long a nexus of U.S. and Russian espionage—is now greater than the number reported by officials in any city except for Havana itself, where the first cases were reported,” The New Yorker reported. “The exact cause of the ailments in Vienna, which U.S. government agencies formally refer to as ‘anomalous health incidents’ or ‘unexplained health incidents,’ remains unknown, but in response to the surge the C.I.A., the State Department, and other agencies are redoubling their efforts to determine the cause, and to identify the culprit or culprits.”
The report said that CIA Director William Burns was “personally” engaged in the situation and that he privately calls the incidents “attacks.” The report comes as the Biden administration has desperately tried to get Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, to reenter the Iran nuclear deal in a series of talks in Vienna.
Havana Syndrome was first reported in Havana, Cuba, several years ago when U.S. officials began reporting a unique set of symptoms including instant intense headaches, loss of balance, and numerous hearing issues. In some cases, the neurological damage lasted years or was permanent and forced those who were attacked to retire. U.S. officials have reportedly been attacked on U.S. soil over the last two years, including attacks near the White House.
“The incidents have allegedly occurred all over the world, including in Europe, Miami, northern Virginia and near the White House,” Politico reported in May. “The GRU’s [a secret Russian military unit] inclusion as a suspect in the investigation, which has not been previously reported, comes as Biden administration officials are working to reassure outraged lawmakers that they are committed to getting to the bottom of the issue and holding those responsible to account.”
While the sources that spoke to the publication said they do not have smoking gun proof, they pointed to several factors that they say makes the GRU the prime suspect. The GRU has a known presence in all of the areas where U.S. officials have gotten sick, it’s the only Russian agency with the technology capable of the attacks, and Russia has stated in the past that it sought to pursue “irregular warfare” against the U.S. because it cannot compete at the same level as the U.S. on the battlefield.
In 2018, The New Yorker highlighted a suspected attack in Cuba using what officials believe is a microwave pulse weapon:
On the evening of March 17th, [Audrey Lee, a career Foreign Service officer in her late forties] came home from the Embassy, made dinner, and ate with the twins in the kitchen nook. Her husband was away on business. Afterward, the kids went upstairs to play Minecraft. At around eight o’clock, Lee washed the dishes. The kitchen lights made it hard to see out the window, but she knew that there was a wooden booth outside where Cuban police kept watch. As Lee was cleaning, she felt a sudden burst of pressure in her head, then a stabbing pain worse than any she had ever experienced. Her breath quickened and she was overcome by panic. Lee had heard rumors around the Embassy of colleagues falling victim to mysterious “sonic attacks,” but no one knew what they were or what had caused them.
As the pain grew more intense, she remembered overhearing a security officer at the Embassy talking about how employees could protect themselves. “Get off the X,” he had said, which Lee took to mean move away from the site where she experienced the pain. She made her way to the family room and took a few minutes to steady herself. After checking on the twins, she went to her bedroom to lie down, but the pain kept her from sleeping.
The next morning, Lee’s head still hurt. At breakfast, her son asked her to read the ingredients on a box of cereal, and she struggled, moving the box back and forth as she tried to focus. In the coming weeks, she often felt dizzy and lost her balance, and sometimes walked into doors. She felt as if she were moving even when she was still, a sensation that she compared to walking after taking off roller skates. She was sleeping just an hour or two a night. Co-workers noticed that she was becoming forgetful.
Multiple CIA officers who are believed to be victims of the attacks have reported nearly identical symptoms, except one. The CIA officers described hearing loud noises, similar to cicadas, that followed them from room to room. They said that when they would go outside that the sounds would immediately stop and they described feeling as if they were standing in a beam of energy.
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