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2 Feb, 2022 15:04

Biden appoints top official to coordinate ‘Havana syndrome’ probe

The president also ordered that updated guidelines for US staff endangered by the mysterious disease be prepared by February 25
Biden appoints top official to coordinate ‘Havana syndrome’ probe

US President Joe Biden is looking to uncover the roots of the so-called ‘Havana syndrome’, assigning a high-ranking intelligence official to coordinate the investigation into the mysterious sickness which has allegedly affected US diplomats since 2016.

The name of the official to serve as “the Anomalous Health Incidents (AHI) Interagency Coordinator” hasn’t been disclosed. But the president’s memo, which was published on Tuesday, said that he occupied the position of “the Senior Director for Intelligence Programs for the National Security Council staff.”

Updated guidelines for US government employees deemed to be under threat from ‘Havana syndrome’, referred to as ‘Anomalous Health Incidents’ in the memo, must be prepared by February 25, Biden said, adding that it should be done in “close coordination” with the newly appointed official.

The alleged ‘Havana syndrome’ was first encountered among US diplomats in the Cuban capital six years ago. Since then, the so-far unexplained sickness – characterized by migraines, nausea, memory lapses and dizziness, among other things – has affected more than 1,000 American officials and family members in several countries, including Russia, China, Germany, and Australia, as well as inside the US.

The US agencies investigating the phenomenon have so far been unable to say with certainty if it is a result of deliberate attacks with the use of some untraceable microwave weapons, a byproduct of surveillance technology, or just a hoax.

According to the media, the CIA said in an internal report last month that it couldn’t trace most of the reported cases of the ‘Havana Syndrome’ to malign activity by foreign foes. Ill will couldn’t be ruled out in around two dozen incidents, but there was no way to prove it, the agency added.

An advocacy group representing those affected by the disease has slammed the CIA’s findings, arguing that they lacked interagency coordination and ended up being “an undermining of the intent of Congress and the president to stand with us and reach a government-wide consensus as to what is behind this.”

The Cuban scientists who also investigated the 2016 events in Havana ruled last summer that there was “no scientific evidence of attacks” against the US diplomats. The “non-science-based” explanations of these incidents disseminated by the media only confuse the American public and “harm US officials, who believe them,” they insisted.