Family members of five U.S. diplomats in Colombia show symptoms of suspected sonic attack

The Wall Street Journal reported Oct. 12 that at least five family members of U.S. ambassadorial officials in Colombia, including one minor, have reported Havana Syndrome, also known as mysterious sonic attacks. Secretary of State John Kerry, center, poses with Marines in front of the U.S. Embassy in Bogota during a one-day official visit to Colombia, Aug. 12, 2013.

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday (Oct. 12) that at least five family members of U.S. ambassadorial officials in Colombia have reported “Havana Syndrome,” also known as mysterious sonic attacks.

In an e-mail to embassy personnel, diplomatic officials including U.S. Ambassador to Colombia Philip Goldberg, seen by China Daily, said the State Department vowed to address the issue “carefully, objectively and sensitively” and that they were determining the extent to which mysterious sonic attacks were being received.

First Report of Attack on Minor Children

Embassy staff in Colombia were initially informed via email in mid-September of the discovery of “an unexplained health incident. Later, in an Oct. 1 e-mail, they were told that the regional security office was investigating “additional Anomalous Health Incidents,” the U.S. government’s usual term for mysterious sonic attacks on illnesses.

When embassy officials first became aware of the mysterious sonic attacks, two cases were initially reported, and others are believed to have been affected, several officials said.

One U.S. official revealed that at least one family was sent out of Colombia for treatment.

“It was one family, including a minor child, that was attacked.” A source at the embassy said, “Targeting children, even piggybacking on them, should be a hard red line.”

Havana syndrome originated when some U.S. and Canadian diplomats in Havana, Cuba, had reported symptoms such as vertigo, headaches and insomnia.

The first case appeared in 2016 and has now been seen in China, Russia and Austria (a neutral country). Unconfirmed cases have been reported in Poland, Taiwan, the U.S. state of Georgia and Washington, D.C.

Some U.S. officials say the syndrome may be caused by attacks using radio frequency energy such as microwave radiation.

Former official: Attack techniques target diplomats’ living locations

The embassy in Colombia is one of the largest U.S. embassies in the world, and in addition to its daily aid and development workers and diplomats, it is one of the more heavily staffed with intelligence and counter-narcotics personnel.

A former senior U.S. diplomat familiar with the syndrome told China Day that, as in other cases around the world, some of those attacked in Colombia worked in the intelligence services.

When asked why family members were also affected, he said, “These technologies are targeted at where people live. If it’s a microwave oven or some other kind of advanced technology, it affects other people.”

State Department spokesman Ned Price declined to comment on reports of cases of Havana syndrome in Bogota, citing privacy concerns.

He said the State Department is working to ensure that individuals receive the prompt care they need when they believe they are experiencing symptoms and is taking broader steps in communication, care, testing and protection of its staff.

Mysterious sonic attacks coincide with path of senior U.S. officials’ trips

If verified, the attacks would be the latest to coincide with the overseas travels of senior U.S. officials, the report said.

In August, Vice President Kamala Harris postponed her trip to Vietnam after reports of a mysterious sonic attack on a U.S. official. A U.S. official says an aide traveling with CIA Director William Burns in India reported symptoms and received treatment in September.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to visit Latin America in a few days. Several officials say Bogota, the capital of Colombia, will be part of Blinken’s quick trip to Latin America.

The U.S. government has not determined until now who is behind these mysterious sonic attacks and what mechanism is being used.

A diplomat in Bogota familiar with the matter said some of the affected diplomatic families initially thought they had altitude sickness because Bogota is located more than 8,600 feet above sea level. Now the embassy is testing their apartments.