US investigates second suspected case of mystery ‘syndrome’ near White House
By Katie Bo Williams, Jeremy Herb and Natasha Bertrand, CNN
May 17, 2021
Multiple sources tell CNN that the episodes affected two officials on the National Security Council in November 2020, one the day after the presidential election and one several weeks later. The cases are consistent with an inexplicable constellation of sensory experiences and physical symptoms that have sickened more than 100 US diplomats, spies and troops around the globe and have come to be known as “Havana Syndrome.
The intelligence community still isn’t sure who is causing the strange array of nervous system symptoms, or if they can be definitively termed “attacks.” Even the technology that might cause such an inconsistent set of symptoms is a matter of debate.
The first incident, previously reported by CNN
, occurred after the 2020 election as the NSC official was attempting to pass through an unstaffed gate near the Ellipse, according to a source with direct knowledge of the incident. That person suffered only mild symptoms after the encounter, including headaches and sleeplessness, all of which went away after a week.
The second official, whose case has not been previously reported, was struck weeks later near an entrance to the White House grounds, two sources familiar with the matter told CNN. The second official suffered more serious symptoms and was ill enough to seek immediate medical treatment, the sources said.
The twin incidents in downtown Washington, along with a previous suspected case in northern Virginia in 2019, have raised concerns that the wave of episodes first seen only among Americans overseas is now occurring in rising numbers on US soil
— and maybe even at the President’s front door.
This story is based on interviews with over a dozen current and former officials with knowledge of the US efforts to respond to these mysterious incidents.
For five years now, investigators have struggled to explain the strange experiences reported by US diplomats and other government workers in Cuba
, Russia, China and elsewhere — episodes that in some cases have led to chronic headaches and brain injuries. Victims have reported experiencing sudden vertigo, headaches and head pressure, sometimes accompanying by a “piercing directional noise.” Some reported being able to escape the symptoms simply by moving to another room — and step back into them by returning to their original position.
The number of suspected cases worldwide is increasing, according to a recent statement from the leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee. There have been more than 130 cases worldwide over the past five years, according to the New York Times
, which reported at least one episode taking place overseas in the last two weeks.
There have also been suspected cases in Europe, CNN previously reported, and additional suspected cases are being investigated domestically, according to sources with knowledge of the matter.