Top Foreign Affairs Republican seeks sanctions over 'Havana Syndrome' attacks

Top Foreign Affairs Republican seeks sanctions over 'Havana Syndrome' attacks
© Greg Nash

The top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee is calling on the Biden administration to sanction those responsible for the mysterious "Havana Syndrome" attacks against U.S. officials across the globe.

Legislation introduced by Rep. Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulPentagon, State Department square off on Afghanistan accountability Mike Siegel: Potential McConaughey candidacy a 'sideshow' in Texas governor race Biden signs bill to help victims of 'Havana syndrome' MORE (Texas), the panel's ranking Republican, on Monday would require President BidenJoe BidenJan. 6 panel lays out criminal contempt case against Bannon Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by the American Petroleum Institute — Democrats address reports that clean energy program will be axed Two House Democrats to retire ahead of challenging midterms MORE to impose such sanctions “within 60 days after receiving persuasive information that a foreign government is responsible for such attacks.”

The suspected attacks, which first occurred in Havana in 2016, have since surfaced in a number of countries, leaving U.S. diplomats and spies with neurological symptoms ranging from vertigo to insomnia to cognitive difficulties.

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A government-funded report by the National Academy of Sciences determined they were most likely caused by microwave radiation, though officials have not yet determined who is responsible for the attacks.

Lawmakers have previously introduced other legislation to increase aid to some 200 Americans impacted by the attacks, as well as bills to create a National Security Council position to oversee the government response.

But McCaul’s bill more specifically calls on the U.S. to exact financial retribution on whoever is ultimately deemed responsible for the attacks. The bill would also restrict foreign assistance and arms exports.

“Around the world, American personnel are being attacked in their homes, in hotels, and even on public streets,” McCaul said in a statement.

“We must find out who is behind these attacks and hold them responsible. And we must reassure the people who serve our nation overseas that we have their backs.”

The bill also requires a report to Congress within six months covering the U.S. response to the attacks.

The legislation comes as the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Friday convened a Joint Intelligence Community Council meeting to discuss the attacks, agreeing to “provide the highest level of care to those affected, and prevent such incidents from continuing.”

The council includes top officials including the attorney general and secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.