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No 'Smoking Gun,' but Evidence from 5-Year Investigation into Havana Syndrome Points to Russia

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – New questions are circulating about Russia and the mysterious affliction known as Havana Syndrome. 

For years many suspected China as the culprit behind the mysterious attacks that have left U.S. officials with health issues like nausea, severe headaches, seizures, and even blindness. But after a five-year investigation, a CBS News team from 60 Minutes, says all evidence points to a Russian intelligence unit. 

"This does sort of feel like the kind of thing that's not out of the scope of the possible with Russia in particular," said Michael O'Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. 

According to CBS News, producers obtained a document linking an elite Russian intelligence unit to acoustic energy weapon testing, and they report proof that a suspected member of that group was in Tbilisi, Georgia at the same time Americans there complained of Havana Syndrome effects.

"It's an attempt to sort of cleverly put pressure on competitors, or to make people fear Russia in some other way, to remind the world that Russia can reach its tentacles far and wide. Or maybe it's just the Russian intelligence agency a little bit out of control," O'Hanlon speculated. 

He says the weapon believed to be responsible for these attacks is attractive because it largely has no signature.

"In the case of sonic weaponry, it's a little bit less easily documented. There's a little bit less of a trace. There is not the same DNA signature, or chemical signature, or radioactive signature," O'Hanlon told CBN News.

In 2022, CBN News spoke with a victim of Havana Syndrome. The 26-year CIA veteran says he was in a hotel room in Moscow, near the U.S. Embassy, when he woke up with vertigo, ringing in his ears, and nausea. 

"I've spent a lot of time in some very tough places in our war zones. This was the most terrifying experience of my life. Something really, really bad happened to me that day," said former CIA officer, Marc Polymeropoulos. 

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While many questions remain about Havana Syndrome, including who's responsible and the motive behind the attacks, O'Hanlon says he's certain those speaking out about their symptoms are telling the truth.

"The people who believe they've been targeted are pretty credible people. It's a lot of American diplomats, for example, who have been based in Cuba, and I have absolutely no reason to think they were interested in making this up," he explained.

Washington is divided over who could be behind these attacks. In 2022, the CIA reported it did not believe Russia or another foreign actor is responsible. The Director of National Intelligence echoed that assessment just last year. 

Still, the retired Army officer who led the Pentagon investigation agrees all evidence points to Moscow. 

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About The Author

Caitlin Burke Headshot

Caitlin Burke serves as National Security Correspondent and a general assignment reporter for CBN News. She has also hosted the CBN News original podcast, The Daily Rundown. Some of Caitlin’s recent stories have focused on the national security threat posed by China, America’s military strength, and vulnerabilities in the U.S. power grid. She joined CBN News in July 2010, and over the course of her career, she has had the opportunity to cover stories both domestically and abroad. Caitlin began her news career working as a production assistant in Richmond, Virginia, for the NBC affiliate WWBT