While in New Delhi, India in early 2021, a US intelligence official traveling with CIA Director William Burns reported signs of Havana Syndrome.
According to US media reports, the news has enraged the CIA director and might lead to an ‘egregious escalation’ if an opposing force is proven to be engaged in the ‘attack.’
This is the first documented incidence of the phenomena in India, and it might have diplomatic ramifications. The condition was originally discovered in late 2016 in Cuba.
The unexplained neurological disease has struck American spies and diplomats in a number of nations. According to US media sources, over 130 similar assaults have been recorded throughout the world in the last several years, including in Moscow, Poland, Georgia, Taiwan, Colombia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Austria.
So, what exactly is the “Havana syndrome,” and what causes it? Let us go through everything in further depth.
So, what is Havana Syndrome?
Havana syndrome is a collection of incapacitating symptoms that initially struck US intelligence officials and diplomatic personnel stationed in Havana, Cuba, in late 2016.
The next year, American embassies across the world reported identical problems. According to researchers looking into the ailment, Havana syndrome, which was previously rejected as mass hysteria or response produced by psychosomatic factors such as stress, maybe the outcome of microwave warfare.
Symptoms are comparable to those of a concussion or moderate brain injury and have largely been reported by diplomats, intelligence officers, military personnel, and their family members stationed abroad.
The symptoms, which have since been dubbed “Havana Syndrome,” included nausea, severe headaches, vertigo, exhaustion, disorientation, sleep issues, and hearing loss.
More than a half-dozen American ambassadors and their families in Cuba and China, as well as at least 14 Canadian citizens in Havana, are said to have had identical symptoms.
What’s really behind Havana Syndrome?
Nobody knows for sure right now. However, because the Cuban experience took place in a country that had been hostile to the US for more than five decades, suspicion was originally directed at Cuban intelligence, which did not want US-Cuba ties to normalize.
A group of specialists has disputed the possibility of such a disease, claiming that the stressful atmosphere in which US diplomats work is to blame for their symptoms. A mass psychogenic (stress-related) disorder, according to Robert W Baloh, a UCLA professor of neurology.
He compared the scenario to how individuals feel unwell when they are informed they have eaten poisoned food, despite the fact that it was perfectly safe. As a result, stress-related sickness is the only explanation.
Others, on the other hand, originally thought it was a “sonic attack.” Further research by US scientists and medical evaluation of the patients led to the conclusion that the victims had been exposed to high-powered microwaves that injured or interfered with their nerve systems. It was supposed to have created pressure inside the brain that gave the impression of hearing a sound.
High-powered microwaves are thought to affect not just the body’s sense of balance, but also memory and cause lasting brain damage. It’s said that high-powered microwave beams are transmitted through a specific device, dubbed the “microwave weapon” by Americans.
Oh, Microwave weapons, really?
Microwave weapons are meant to be a sort of direct energy weapon that shoots highly focused energy at a target in the form of acoustic, laser, or microwaves.
An electron tube called a magnetron, similar to a microwave oven, generates electromagnetic waves (microwaves) that bounce about the metal inside of the appliance and are absorbed by the food.
Microwaves agitate the water molecules in the food, and their vibrations generate heat, which cooks it. So, what effect do these waves have on the human body?
People who have been subjected to high-intensity microwave pulses have reported hearing a clicking or buzzing sound emanating from within their heads. It can have short-term and long-term impacts without causing physical harm.
China and Russia, according to a BBC investigation, have both been involved in microwave research and could have recycled instruments designed for industrial usage.
However, despite five years of data collecting, testing, and medical examinations of victims, the US has yet to produce definitive evidence that the microwave weapon’ is a reality. No one appears to know what this weapon’s mechanics are or how it works.
There’s also the matter of how the so-called weapon can target certain persons without affecting everyone in its range. Some medical specialists in the United States have begun to reject this hypothesis, describing the sickness as a psychiatric disorder exacerbated by widespread fear of being targeted.
How it can be treated?
There are anomalies in the structure of the white matter when MRI pictures of affected persons are compared to those of healthy people (the whiter tissue of the brain and spinal cord that mostly comprises bundles of myelinated nerve fibers).
This supports the hypothesis that Havana syndrome is characterized by non-specific and unexplainable changes in brain activity and structure.
The illness is treated with alternative medical therapies such as art therapy, meditation, breathing exercises, and acupuncture. A rehabilitation program involving 1-hour sessions of specific neurological exercises has shown some promise, but further research is needed.
Cognitive tasks, balance exercises, orthoptic exercises, and repeating difficult upper and lower limb motions are all included in each session.
There may never be a final answer to whether Havana syndrome is physical or psychogenic after 5 years, hundreds of instances on different continents, and inconclusive inquiry.
Although Havana syndrome differs from other MPI outbreaks in certain areas, it is more similar than not — and paranoia in the American intelligence community would not be unprecedented.