The CIA probe of mysterious ‘Havana Syndrome’ is being led by the officer who hunted bin Laden, CIA chief confirms

CIA Director William Burns
CIA Director William Burns. Graeme Jennings/Pool via AP
  • The CIA probe of “Havana Syndrome” is being led by a veteran official who played a key role in the search for Osama bin Laden.
  • CIA director William Burns confirmed the news during an interview with NPR.
  • Burns called Havana Syndrome, which reportedly up to 200 Americans have reported having symptoms of, “real” and “serious.”
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The CIA probe of so-called Havana Syndrome, or the mysterious ailment that has plagued dozens of US spies and diplomats, is being led by a veteran official who played a key role in the search for Osama bin Laden, the agency’s chief confirmed.

“We have a very strong team of people, the best across the CIA, focused on those questions of what and who [is causing the illness],” CIA director William Burns said during an NPR interview that aired Thursday.

The team, Burns said, is being headed by “a very experienced and accomplished senior officer who a decade ago led the successful hunt for bin Laden,” the mastermind behind the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Bin Laden was killed in a US operation in 2011.

The officer leading the team investigating Havana Syndrome was not identified.

Meanwhile, Burns called Havana Syndrome – which reportedly up to 200 Americans have reported having symptoms of – “real” and “serious.”

“I’m certainly persuaded that what our officers and some family members, as well as other US government employees, have experienced is real, and it’s serious,” Burns said.

He added, “We’re throwing the very best we have at this issue because it is not only a very serious issue for our colleagues, as it is for others across the US government, but it’s a profound obligation, I think, of any leader to take care of your people.”

Symptoms of the mystery illness, which was first identified in 2016, reportedly include nausea, headaches, vertigo, dizziness, and memory loss.

Burns would not say the illness is caused by “attacks,” but explained, “What matters most to me is the reality whatever you call these they’re harming our colleagues here, my colleagues at the CIA, and that’s what we’re determined to get to the bottom of.”

Of the cases of the illness already reported, about 100 of those involve CIA members and their family members, Burns said.