This article is more than 1 year old

Havana Syndrome definitely (maybe) not caused by brain-scrambling energy weapons

Pre-existing mental health issues and the stress of working in Cuba are more likely culprits

Havana Syndrome – the inexplicable illness experienced by some US intelligence and diplomatic personnel – is almost certainly not caused by energy weapons, according to the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence. It has, rather, attributed the malady to pre-existing mental health challenges exacerbated by environmental conditions.

First reported in 2016 by US and Canadian intelligence officers stationed in Cuba, Havana Syndrome was characterized by a variety of unexplained auditory and cognitive symptoms. Individuals reported hearing sudden loud noises that were often accompanied by ear pain. Others reported tinnitus, visual problems, vertigo, and cognitive difficulties. Similar symptoms were later experienced by intelligence personnel and service members around the globe.  

A definitive cause was never identified, but a report produced by the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found that the symptoms experienced by US diplomats in Cuba was consistent with the use of directed, pulsed radio frequency energy.

"Many of the chronic, nonspecific symptoms are also consistent with known RF effects, such as dizziness, headache, fatigue, nausea, anxiety, cognitive deficits, and memory loss," the report read. "Overall, directed, pulsed RF energy, especially in those with the distinct early manifestations, appears to be the most plausible mechanism in explaining these cases."

However, an assessment [PDF] conducted by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence concluded that "it is 'very unlikely' a foreign adversary is responsible for the reported anomalous health incidents."

It's worth noting that the term "very unlikely" – when used in this context by the National Intelligence Council – is a technical term that means there's roughly an 80 percent chance it was something else.

That doesn't mean the symptoms weren't real. In a statement, the Director of National Intelligence emphasized that the "findings do not call into question the very real experiences and symptoms that our colleagues and their family members have reported," and added that the officers acted appropriately when they reported the symptoms.

"We are sincerely grateful to those who came forward as it helped to not only shape our response but identify areas where we need to improve our medical and counterintelligence protocols," the statement reads. ®

More about


Send us news

Other stories you might like