Russia is suspected of carrying out directed-energy attacks on U.S. troops, and the Department of Defense is investigating the matter according to multiple national security sources who spoke with Politico on Thursday.
The investigation includes one incident in Syria in fall 2020 in which several troops developed flu-like symptoms after a suspected attack, according to two sources familiar with the investigation. U.S. personnel reportedly exhibited symptoms similar to those experienced by nearly 50 U.S. diplomats at the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba in late 2016, at the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, China in early 2017, and again in Moscow, Russia in late 2017.
According to Politico’s sources, Pentagon officials briefed at least two key groups of lawmakers about the investigation earlier this year, both through written and in-person briefings. The military briefers told the top members of congress in the “Gang of Eight” and the Senate Armed Services Committee about the suspected sonic attacks on U.S. troops.
The briefers reportedly identified Russia as the likely source of the various sonic attacks but also listed China as another possible culprit.
Investigators of the incidents at the U.S. diplomatic posts in Cuba and China have long suspected U.S. personnel were subjected to an illness-inducing sound consistent with a directed radiofrequency energy attack.
The briefers told lawmakers they are concerned U.S. troops are becoming increasingly vulnerable to these types of attacks, especially in the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) area of operations, including combat zones in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
One source for Politico said the facilities where U.S. troops operate from in these regions are not secure or “hardened in any real way” against radio frequency attacks. “That makes them very, very vulnerable,” they said.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), the vice-chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee and a member of the Gang of Eight, expressed concern about Russian aggression in the Middle East to Politico and said, “I think that’s a question that has to have answers and beyond that, we’ve all seen some of these attacks on diplomatic facilities. I don’t want to link the two, but again, I just can’t comment on any of that.”
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), a member of the Armed Services Committee, declined to comment on any details about any alleged sonic attacks against U.S. troops in Syria, but said, “On a number of topics where we have been briefed in a classified setting, I think the American people need and deserve to know more.”
After Politico published its original article on the suspected sonic attacks, Gen. Frank McKenzie, the head of CENTCOM, told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee that he’s seen “no evidence” of such attacks against U.S. troops in his area of responsibility, which includes the Middle East and Afghanistan.