Since Joe Biden took office in January, about two dozen U.S. intelligence officials and diplomats in Austria have developed headaches, vertigo, and vision problems consistent with suspected sonic attacks, according to a new report by the New Yorker magazine on Friday.
The afflicted personnel in Austria are the latest in a pattern of U.S. intelligence officers, diplomats and service members to develop symptoms of what has come to be known as “Havana Syndrome.” Those affected reported experiencing grating noise and pressure in their heads. It is believed people develop the syndrome after being targeted with some form of a directed radiofrequency.
A State Department spokesman told the New Yorker, “In coordination with our partners across the U.S. government, we are vigorously investigating reports of possible unexplained health incidents among the U.S. Embassy Vienna community.”
The Austrian Foreign Ministry told Reuters, “We take these reports very seriously and in line with our role as host state we are working with the U.S. authorities on jointly getting to the bottom of this. The safety of diplomats posted to Vienna and their families is of the utmost importance to us.”
A State Department spokesperson also told Reuters the U.S. was “vigorously investigating” the cases.
The symptoms of the suspected radiofrequency attacks were named “Havana Syndrome” after dozens of U.S. diplomats in Havana, Cuba first began reporting the nausea-inducing sound and pressure sensations in late 2016.
Since the first cases were reported in Cuba, dozens of Americans have come forward to report experiencing similar symptoms around the world. Following the initial Havana incident, “Havana Syndrome” cases have been reported by U.S. personnel in China in early 2017 and in Moscow, Russia.
According to the New Yorker, the number of “Havana Syndrome” cases in Vienna, Austria is now greater than the number reported by officials in any city except for Havana itself.
The cause of “Havana Syndrome” cases has been the subject of ongoing investigation for years now. Early efforts to determine the origin of the sickening sound at the U.S. Embassy in Havana proposed a species of Caribbean crickets may have been causing it. As cases emerged around the world, however, officials began to propose a pattern of deliberate sonic attacks as the likely cause. Russia has also become the leading suspect behind the attacks.
U.S. troops deployed in Syria were reportedly targeted with the suspected sonic attacks in 2020. Cases have also been reported in the U.S. including against a Trump White House staffer around her Virginia home and against Secret Service personnel near the White House ellipse in 2020.
As of May, more than 130 U.S. individuals have been targeted with the suspected sonic attacks.
In May, Politico reported Russia’s military intelligence unit, known as the GRU, was the most likely culprit to carry out the suspected sonic attacks. Unnamed U.S. officials told Politico that Russia has the technology to pull off such sonic attacks and there is significant Russian presence in all the areas where the suspected attacks have occurred. One U.S. official told Politico that Israel and China also may possess the technology to launch illness-inducing directed radiofrequency energy attacks, but neither country has the same presence in all of the suspected attack locations, nor have they shown the desire to attack Americans in this fashion.