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Havana Syndrome could have been caused by a directed energy weapon

NewsHavana Syndrome could have been caused by a directed energy weapon

It is unusual that Havana Syndrome affects only the US (and in Cuba, Canadian) diplomatic and intelligence staff.


BENGALURU: THE PROBLEM: In 2016, several US embassy staff and 14 Canadian diplomats posted in Havana, Cuba complained of dizziness, migraine headache, nausea, fatigue, anxiety, cognitive difficulties and memory lapses similar to symptoms of a concussion brain injury. These unusual, often disabling symptoms have since been referred to as the Havana syndrome. In later years, US diplomats and intelligence officers have had this experience in Asia and Russia, Poland, Berlin, Vienna, Serbia and  Georgia. In 2018, US staff were evacuated from Guangzhou in China for the same problem. In 2019 and 2020, two incidents were reported from Washington DC. In August 2021, US Vice President Kamala Harris’ visit to Vietnam got delayed due to similar complaints from US staff in Hanoi. Later in September 2021, a member of CIA director Bill Burns delegation visiting New Delhi reported symptoms consistent with this mysterious Havana Syndrome. Both the US House and Senate have recently passed a bill called “Helping American Victims Afflicted by Neurological Attacks (HAVANA) Act” to financially support personnel suffering brain injuries.

INVESTIGATION FINDINGS AND SUSPECTS: Extensive investigations of possible causes have not led to definitive identification of the cause. CIA, FBI, State Department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have conducted independent investigations instead of a coordinated study. A study by advanced brain MRI techniques on 40 of 44 diplomats from Cuba with Havana Syndrome found definite injury in the auditory and visuospatial subnetworks of the brain and was reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association. In December 2020, a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine expert committee stated that the findings were consistent with pulsed radiofrequency/microwave radiation exposure. US officials suspected attacks by GRU, the Russian military intelligence. Meanwhile, Cuban officials analysed air and soil samples for neurotoxic pesticide (used against mosquitoes) or chemicals and found none. This year a panel of 16 scientists of the Cuban Academy of Sciences stated that “No known form of energy can selectively cause brain damage (with laser-like spatial accuracy) under the conditions described for the alleged incidents in Havana”. In the 1970s, NASA research demonstrated thermal expansion in parts of the inner year in persons exposed to microwaves from radar installations to be the cause of clicks and buzzing sounds heard by them (Frey effect). Many other causes have been suggested for the unusual sounds heard, including ultrasound, calling song of crickets and mass psychogenic illness, but none of these can cause the brain damage found in the affected persons.

RADIATION: The electromagnetic field associated by the passage of radiofrequency waves including radio waves (RF) and microwaves (MW), causes vibration and rotation of polarised molecules leading to friction between them and thus heating of the material. RF have longer wavelength and hence have greater penetration but heat slowly, MF have shorter wavelength hence have less penetration but heat faster. Various frequencies of radio waves are used for television and FM and AM radio, ham radio and TV broadcasts. Microwaves are widely used in point-to-point communication links, mobile phones, wireless networks (WiFi, Bluetooth, remote control, smart devices, collision avoidance systems, garage door openers and keyless entry systems), microwave radio relay networks, radar, satellite and spacecraft communication, full body scanners, remote sensing, radio astronomy, particle accelerators and spectroscopy. Heating by microwaves is used for medical diathermy and cancer treatment, industrial heating, for cooking food in microwave ovens, pasteurization of liquid products and sanitization. Radio frequency is used for heating and drying of textiles, wood, powders, and processed foods. Lasers have medical, industrial and military applications. High-energy ionizing radiation includes X-rays and gamma rays and also higher energy UV radiation. These can damage the DNA and sometimes result in cancer. Microwaves do not have enough energy to ionise and damage genetic material but can cause the kind of brain damage seen in Havana Syndrome, provided they are able to penetrate. Hence US investigators suspected directed pulsed RF energy as the likely cause. Many attempts have been made to weaponise directed energy. A directed-energy weapon (DEW) damages its target with highly focused energy, including laser, microwaves, ultrasonics, plasma and particle beams.

It is unusual that Havana Syndrome affects only the US (and in Cuba, Canadian) diplomatic and intelligence staff, when abroad and that too in a hotel or home, without affecting their family members or neighbours. This makes me wonder if the problem is due to microwave radiation from a specialised encrypted wireless earphone used by these officials, as microwaves from these closely held devices could penetrate into the ear and brain. Further focused radio waves from surveillance equipment could cause these wireless earphones to jam or malfunction.


Dr P.S. Venkatesh Rao, is Consultant Endocrine, Breast & Laparoscopic Surgeon.


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