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The United States was put on high alert last week following reports of at least two officials coming down with syndromes reminiscent of Havana syndrome. Since 2016, the mystery ailment is understood to have affected nearly 130 people – including 50 CIA personnel. Although the exact cause of Havana syndrome remains a mystery, symptoms of the illness include the unexpected onset of dizziness, nausea and headaches.
In some instances, victims have reported hearing “piercing directional noise”, which has led to speculation about the use of sonic weaponry against US government personnel.
The very first case of Havana syndrome was reported by US and Canadian embassy staff in Cuba five years ago.
The illness has since been reported all over the globe with cases in the US, Austria, China and now Germany.
In 2017, former US President Donald Trump pointed the finger of blame at Cuba, accusing the communist nation of orchestrating an attack on US personnel.
Havana syndrome mapped: Russia has been accused of being responsible for the ailment (Image: EXPRESS/GETTY)
The very first report of the syndrome involved US embassy staff in Cuba (Image: GETTY)
He said: “I do believe Cuba’s responsible. I do believe that.
“And it’s a very unusual attack, as you know. But I do believe Cuba is responsible.”
Since the Cuban incident, an official probe by the US has exposed more than a dozen instances of the ailment or similar symptoms, including an alleged attack outside the White House.
One incident on US soil was recorded just outside Washington DC and involved a National Security Council employee.
The incidents have not gone unnoticed by the present administration with US President Joe Biden’s team investigating what they call “anomalous health incidents”.
Officials within the US government suspect the symptoms associated with Havana syndrome are the direct result of targetted sonic or microwave attacks.
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Unlike conventional guns and bombs, these types of attacks can be perpetrated stealthily and without collateral damage.
It is understood both China and Russia are in possession of such weapons and a US company has developed a prototype as early as 2004.
The weapon, codenamed MEDUSA or Mob Excess Deterrent Using Silent Audio, was designed as a “temporary personnel incapacitation system”.
The non-lethal weapon uses the so-called microwave auditory effect or MAE to induce a harmful sound sensation in the head.
According to a 2004 report, the weapon can deter people from entering protected areas or “temporarily incapacitating particular individuals”.
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Nearly 130 people have reported symptoms related to Havana syndrome (Image: EXPRESS/GETTY)
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The report states: “The system will: be portable, require low power, have a controllable radius of coverage, be able to switch from crowd to individual coverage, cause a temporarily incapacitating effect, have a low probability of fatality or permanent injury, cause no damage to property, and have a low probability of affecting friendly personnel.”
According to US intelligence reports from 2018, it is possible Russia has deployed similar technology against US government personnel.
At the time, China and Russia were both pegged as the most likely culprits behind the “attacks”.
In testimony before Congress, Peter Bodde, the eighth US ambassador to Libya, told a House Foreign Affairs Committee panel: “The State Department has come to the determination that they were attacks.”
Sources inside the US government have also told NBC three years ago there is “no reason to believe this was anything but an intentional act.”
But Mr Biden’s top aides were told earlier this month that experts were still struggling to find evidence to back up the leading theory, that Russia could be linked.
Experts continue to probe whether microwave beams, also known as sonic weapons, could be the culprit.
One official told the New York Times: “It is possible that this began as an espionage effort that turned into a stealthy means of attack.”
“But the frustrating part is that there is still no definitive conclusion.
“That would enable the president to call out the Russians, the way he has with cyberattacks.”