CIA director “fuming” after Havana syndrome strikes team member in India

William Burns, director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), arrives for a closed hearing at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on Wednesday, May 26, 2021.

Enlarge / William Burns, director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), arrives for a closed hearing at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on Wednesday, May 26, 2021.

A US intelligence officer traveling in India earlier this month with CIA director William Burns reported experiencing a mysterious health incident and symptoms consistent with so-called Havana syndrome, according to a report by CNN. The officer received immediate medical care upon returning to the US.

The case raises fears that such incidents are not only increasing, but potentially escalating, unnamed officials told CNN and The New York Times. The new incident within Burns’ own team reportedly left the CIA chief “fuming” with anger.

The director’s schedule is tightly guarded, and officials do not know if the affected intelligence officer was targeted because the officer was traveling with the director. If the health incident was an attack carried out by an adversarial intelligence agency—as feared—it’s unclear how the adversarial agency learned of the trip and was able to prepare an attack. It’s also possible, however, that the officer was targeted for other reasons and without knowledge that the officer was traveling with the director.

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