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CIA Chief Picks Veteran Who Led Bin Laden Hunt to Head ‘Havana Syndrome’ Task Force

© REUTERS / Larry Downing/FilesThe lobby of the CIA Headquarters Building is pictured in Langley, Virginia, U.S.
The lobby of the CIA Headquarters Building is pictured in Langley, Virginia, U.S. - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.07.2021
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US-Cuba tensions reached a new intensity in late 2016 after US diplomats stationed in Havana, Cuba, began reporting a variety of odd symptoms that included hearing loss, dizziness and cognitive difficulties. Although the source of the so-called “Havana Syndrome” remains elusive, one US report claimed directed radio energy emissions were to blame.
The head of the US Central Intelligence Agency has selected an officer who took the lead in the hunt for Osama bin Laden to serve as the point person for the agency’s ongoing effort to pinpoint the causes of the since dubbed “Havana Syndrome.”
Citing current and former agency officials familiar with the developments, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that CIA Director William Burns made his pick as part of a larger push to “quicken” the agency’s investigation.
The identity of the chosen officer has not yet been publicly released.
One source familiar with the new lead on the investigation told the Journal that the individual had spent more than 10 years reviewing intelligence analysis and targeting, and examining bin Laden and his affiliated networks.
At present, the task force is composed of a wide ranging group of specialists, such as intelligence analysts, clinicians, undercover agents and human resource specialists, sources revealed.
The CIA’s team of specialists has been led by career intelligence official Cynthia Rapp, who sources say opted to delay her retirement from the spy agency in order to help form the investigative ensemble.
© AP Photo / Ramon EspinosaA classic American car flying a Cuban flag drives past the American embassy during a rally calling for the end of the US blockade against the island nation, in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, March 28, 2021.
A classic American car flying a Cuban flag drives past the American embassy during a rally calling for the end of the US blockade against the island nation, in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, March 28, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 07.09.2021
A classic American car flying a Cuban flag drives past the American embassy during a rally calling for the end of the US blockade against the island nation, in Havana, Cuba, Sunday, March 28, 2021.
Although reports of mysterious health symptoms began to emerge between late 2016 and into 2017, the task force itself was not formed by the CIA until December 2020. Additional probes were also launched by both the US Department of Defense and the State Department amid growing concerns that efforts were moving at a sluggish pace.
To date, the exact cause of the health symptoms have remained unclear despite a State Department-backed report by the National Academies of Sciences (NAS) suggesting that directed radio frequency energy was the culprit.
Disputing the NAS report, Cuban officials have repeatedly rejected the allegations, noting at the time that the conclusions seemed to be more of a hypothesis rather than “proven fact” since the “report does not provide scientific evidence.”
The latest developments come as reports recently began to detail that similar health symptoms are emerging among US diplomats in Europe, specifically in Vienna and Berlin, among other areas. Figures place the tally of affected individuals at about 200.
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