From The Editor | March 3, 2023

Intelligence Community: "Very Unlikely" Foreign Adversaries Caused Havana Syndrome Cases

John Oncea

By John Oncea, Editor


Directed energy weapons are in the news but this time it’s for what they didn’t do instead of what they can do.

We took a look at directed energy weapons (DEW) late last year and used, as a reference point, 2016’s Havana Syndrome incident. The reporting at that time concluded, “While the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine suspected the incident was caused by a foreign government’s use of pulsed electromagnetic energy and ultrasound against U.S. diplomats and intelligence officers in the Cuban capital, there is no definitive proof. The CIA concluded that the majority of the 1,000 cases of Havana Syndrome it studied were not a result of directed energy but were caused by environmental causes, undiagnosed medical conditions, or stress.”

That all changed in the past week so let’s take a look at the latest news regarding DEW’s most infamous alleged use.

DEWs Were Most Likely Not Used According To The Intelligence Community

Let’s not bury the lede – “U.S. intelligence agencies cannot link a foreign adversary to any of the incidents associated with so-called ‘Havana syndrome,’ the hundreds of cases of brain injuries and other symptoms reported by American personnel around the world,” writes The Associated Press.

Investigators detected confusion among adversarial governments about the allegations, as well as suspicions that Havana Syndrome was an “American plot.” The AP reports, “Investigators found ‘no credible evidence’ that any adversary had obtained a weapon that could cause the reported symptoms or a listening device that might inadvertently injure people.

This announcement comes a month after the CIA said it was unlikely any foreign adversary was mounting a broad campaign to attack Americans with energy-emitting devices. “While most cases have been linked to other causes by doctors and experts, there remains a smaller subset of several dozen cases that experts believe could be explained by the deliberate use of energy,” The Associated Press writes.

Homeland Security Today further reports that the intelligence community “pursued three separate lines of inquiry: the first encompassed work determining whether available data points to the involvement of a foreign adversary in the incidents; the second focused on the feasibility and existence of deliberate mechanisms that an adversary might use against U.S. personnel to cause Anomalous Health Incidents (AHIs); and the third evaluated whether medical analysis can help determine if an outside actor is involved in the broad range of phenomena and symptoms associated with AHIs.”

Based on these three criteria most intelligence community agencies say it’s “very unlikely” that DEWs were used in Havana though two at moderate-to-high confidence and three at moderate confidence. “Two agencies judge it is “unlikely” an adversary was responsible for AHIs and do so with low confidence based on collection gaps and their review of the same evidence.”

Avril D. Haines, Director of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) said in a statement, “Needless to say, these findings do not call into question the very real experiences and symptoms that our colleagues and their family members have reported. Officers did exactly what we asked them to do: to take our guidance seriously and report suspicious experiences and 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, which remains an ongoing process.”

Mark Zain, a lawyer speaking on behalf of more than 25 patients affected by Havana Syndrome, said, “They feel betrayed, very much betrayed,” according to The Hill. “They feel that this has been completely ignored and whitewashed. This is something we’re going to continue to push until we get much deeper into the truth.” Zaid said he and his clients have sued to obtain the full, unredacted report from the federal government.

The news, according to BENZINGA, hasn’t hurt the DEW market which “is projected to grow from $5.3 Billion in 2022 to $12.9 Billion by 2027, at a CAGR of 19.6% from 2022 to 2027 according to a new report by MarketsandMarkets.” That growth “can be attributed to the rising modernization and investments in military platforms and increasing demand for modern warfare solutions to boost national security and defense capabilities.”

MarketsandMarkets expects North America to contribute the largest share driven by “cross-border disputes and terrorist attacks in different parts of the world, along with advancements in technologies such as high energy laser and high-power radio frequency technology, among others.” Raytheon Technologies Corporation, Northrop Grumman Corporation, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Thales Group, and BAE Systems plc are expected to be the major players in the DEW market.