US intelligence community convenes new panel to investigate causes of ‘Havana syndrome’ among new cases in Austria


The U.S. intelligence community has launched a new expert panel that brings together senior officers and outside medical and scientific experts to investigate “abnormal health incidents” affecting dozens of U.S. personnel around the world, a chief intelligence officer at ABC News.

The US government has yet to come to a conclusion on the cause of the incidents, sometimes known as “Havana Syndrome” after the first cluster of cases were reported to the US Embassy in Cuba .

But more of the reported cases are currently under investigation at the embassy in Austria’s capital Vienna, according to the State Department, whose spokesperson said on Monday it was “vigorously investigating reports of ‘possible unexplained health incidents’ among US personnel there.

Austria is just the latest country where incidents have been reported. The National Security Council is overseeing a government-wide review “to determine whether there may be any previously unreported incidents that fit a larger pattern,” the White House press secretary said Monday, Jen Psaki, and “if they constitute any attack on the part of a stranger. Actor.”

Beyond that review, the intelligence community also established the new panel of experts earlier this month – bringing together senior officers from the CIA, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and outside scientific and medical experts – to explore the multiple assumptions about what caused the “health incidents,” an intelligence official told ABC News.

This is the latest federal government review of an issue that has irritated officials since 2016 when the first cases were reported in Cuba, underscoring how little US officials still know.

The new panel will build on the findings of a report by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine last December, according to the official, which concluded that “directed and pulsed radio frequency energy appears to be the most plausible mechanism to explain these cases, especially in people with distinct early symptoms. “

Dozens of U.S. officials have been diagnosed with injuries, including traumatic brain injuries, after reporting strange experiences like high-pitched sounds or sensations of pressure or vibration, or debilitating symptoms such as headache, nausea, cognitive deficits and impaired sight, hearing or balancing.

Prior to Austria, the US government acknowledged, in public or in declassified documents, reported cases in Cuba, China, Uzbekistan, Russia and the United States, although the White House said that “the great majority ”of cases have been reported abroad.

The main Democrat and Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee warned in May that “the pattern of attack by our fellow citizens in the service of our government appears to be increasing.”

“In coordination with our interagency partners, we are vigorously investigating reports of possible unexplained health incidents among the US embassy community there” in Vienna, State Department spokesman Ned said on Monday. Price.

The agency declined to provide further details, including the number of staff affected. But according to The New Yorker magazine, which first reported on the Vienna cluster, it totals around two dozen U.S. diplomats, intelligence officers and other government officials – now behind Havana.

A CIA spokesperson told ABC News that Director Bill Burns “is personally engaged with personnel affected by abnormal health incidents and is strongly committed to treating them and determining the cause of these incidents.” but declined to provide further details.

The CIA and State Department have both strengthened their internal task forces investigating reported incidents among their staff, while the State Department has its own team of medical experts who respond to reported incidents around the world. whole.

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