havana-syndrome

After four years of a mysterious neurological illness started to affect American diplomats in Cuba, China, and other countries, a report has found “directed” microwave radiation to be its “plausible” cause.

The study, commissioned by the State Department however, does not mention that the “directed, pulsed radiofrequency energy” was delivered intentionally and stopped short of naming a source even though it did note that “significant research” had been conducted on microwave weapons in Russia/USSR. Russia has denied any role in the “attacks”.

The ‘Havana syndrome’

  • In late 2016, US diplomats in Havana reported feeling ill after hearing strange sounds and experiencing odd physical sensations in their hotel rooms or homes.
  • The symptoms included nausea, severe headaches, fatigue, dizziness, sleep problems, and hearing loss, which have since come to be known as “Havana Syndrome”.
  • Cuba had denied any knowledge of the illnesses even though the US had accused it of carrying out “sonic attacks”, leading to an increase in tensions.

Possible factor: Microwave Weapons

  • “Microwave weapons” are supposed to be a type of direct energy weapons, which aim highly focused energy in the form of sonic, laser, or microwaves, at a target.
  • People exposed to high-intensity microwave pulses have reported a clicking or buzzing sound as if seeming to be coming from within your head.
  • It can have both acute and long-term effects — without leaving signs of physical damage.
  • These weapons are considered to be the cause of the “syndrome” whose symptoms include nausea, dizziness, fatigue, and cognitive difficulties.

What has the NAS report said on the ‘Havana syndrome’?

  • The NAS report, titled “An assessment of illness in US government employees and their families at overseas embassies”, by a committee of 19 experts in medicine and other fields examined four possibilities to explain the symptoms — infection, chemicals, psychological factors and microwave energy on examining report of  about 40 government employees.
  • The report concluded that “directed pulsed RF energy appears to be the most plausible mechanism in explaining these cases among those that the committee considered”.
  • By calling it “directed” and “pulsed” energy, the report leaves no room for confusion that the victims’ exposure was targeted and not due to common sources of microwave energy, such as, a mobile phone. The report also mentions that the immediate symptoms that patients reported — including sensations of pain and buzzing sound — apparently emanated from a particular direction, or occurred in a specific spot in a room.

How did researchers deduce that?

  • The researchers have examined four possibilities to explain the symptoms — infection, chemicals, psychological factors and microwave energy.
  • The experts examined the symptoms of about 40 government employees.
  • The report concluded that directed pulsed RF (radio frequency) energy appears to be the most plausible mechanism in explaining these cases among those that the committee considered.