FBI declares 'Havana Syndrome' a 'top priority': report
US officials still have yet to determine cause of syndrome
The FBI on Wednesday called Havana Syndrome a "top priority" as around 200 U.S. diplomats, officials and family members overseas have suffered from the series of "anomalous health incidents."
U.S. officials reported the first cases of the syndrome – best understood as a series of symptoms including migraines, nausea, memory lapses and dizziness without cause – in 2016 in Cuba. Cases of the syndrome continued to pop up in locations around the world, including in China, Europe and Washington, D.C.
An FBI statement to Reuters noted the issue is "a top priority for the FBI, as the protection, health and well-being of our employees and colleagues across the federal government is paramount."
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The agency still hasn’t identified the cause of the symptoms, but noted the intelligence community will continue to work to "determine how we can best protect our personnel." Theories range from a nerve agent to microwave or sonic weapons.
CIA Director William Burns warned Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) that if U.S. intelligence tied Russian involvement to Havana Syndrome, it would go beyond anything considered acceptable behavior for a professional intelligence service, an anonymous official told The Washington Post.
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The warning occurred during a visit to Moscow earlier this month, and the CIA director remained cautious in his language, making it clear the U.S. does not believe Russia responsible – for now.
Russia has long denied any involvement in the incidents.
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National Intelligence Director Avril Haines and Burns have been investigating a growing number of reported injuries and illnesses possibly linked to directed energy attacks in what's known as the syndrome. Still, no definitive cause or culprits have been determined.
In July, the CIA appointed a new director of its task force investigating syndrome cases, an undercover official who participated in the hunt for Usama bin Laden. The State Department also announced in July that additional cases were under investigation at the U.S. embassy in Vienna, Austria.
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In August, U.S. officials at the American embassy in Berlin sought treatment after suffering from the syndrome. The cases represented the first reported incidences of the syndrome reported in a NATO country hosting U.S. troops and weapons.
Fox News’ Danielle Wallace contributed to this report.