The US is still unsure of what causes the so-called “Havana syndrome” that has sickened diplomats in several countries, intelligence chief Avril Haines said Monday.
The director of national intelligence said she had convened a meeting with top cabinet officials and other experts Friday to discuss the problem, which has led to unproven allegations that Russians or others used sonic or other high-intensity electronic devices to physically harm US diplomats in Cuba, China and other countries.
But — five years after the first case in Havana — medical experts, the intelligence community and US officials remain uncertain of the cause of the “anomalous health incidents” (AHI) that have affected US diplomats and their families, Haines indicated in a statement.
The meeting unanimously agreed “that it is a top priority to identify the cause of AHI, provide the highest level of care to those affected, and prevent such incidents from continuing,” she said.
The Friday meeting of the Joint Intelligence Community Council included the secretaries of defense, state, treasury, energy, and homeland security and the attorney general.
Diplomats affected by AHI have accused the government in recent years of not working hard enough to identify the cause or source of their symptoms.
The problem surfaced in 2016 when US diplomats and their families in Cuba complained of nosebleeds, migraines and nausea after experiencing piercing sounds at night.
Since then similar complaints have been reported from US officials in China, Russia and inside the United States.
In July the New Yorker reported that since President Joe Biden took office this year, about two dozen US intelligence officers, diplomats and other government officials in Austria have reported problems similar to the Havana syndrome.
The US has deployed medical and scientific experts to study the alleged attacks and those affected have been extensively examined to try to understand their afflictions.
Haines’ statement indicated that while no conclusion has been reached, they continue to take the reports of problems seriously.
The participants “made clear that they will support those affected by AHI to ensure they are believed, heard, and respected,” she said.