Story at a glance

  • At least 130 U.S. personnel serving have suffered injuries consistent with the “Havana syndrome.”
  • The number reported by the Times is more than double the previously confirmed 60 cases that includes U.S. spies, diplomats and other personnel.
  • The National Academy of Sciences in December published a report saying the injuries suffered by government officials in Cuba and China were likely the result of a form of microwave or directed-energy attack.

At least 130 U.S. personnel have suffered injuries consistent with the so-called “Havana syndrome,” according to a report from The New York Times.

The number reported by the Times is more than double the previously confirmed 60 cases that includes U.S. spies, diplomats and other personnel who have experienced brain injuries since 2016. The initial confirmed cases were documented in personnel in China and Cuba, but the newly reported cases include personnel in Europe and other parts of Asia. 


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The Times, citing interviews with current and former federal officials, said some suffered long-term brain injuries and “sensory phenomena,” as well as physical symptoms such as vertigo, nausea and head or neck pain. 

The National Academy of Sciences in December published a report saying the injuries suffered by government officials in Cuba and China were likely the result of a form of microwave or directed-energy attack. 

Since December, three CIA officers overseas have reported such injuries and required outpatient treatment at the Walter Reed military hospital. One incident occurred within the past two weeks. 

The incidents first took place among diplomats and CIA officers working in Havana in 2016. 

Federal agencies are investigating the incidents but have not yet been able to determine who or what is responsible for the mysterious episodes or whether they are attacks. The Times notes some Pentagon officials believe Russia’s military intelligence agency the GRU could be behind the incidents, although no definitive conclusion has been reached. 

Late last month it was reported officials were investigating two possible “Havana syndrome” attacks on U.S. soil, including one near the White House. 

One of the attacks is believed to have occurred near the Ellipse south of the White House, harming a National Security Council official. 

Another U.S.-based incident happened in a Virginia suburb in 2019 while a White House official was walking her dog. 


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Published on May 14, 2021