Politico published a story on Thursday morning that claims the Pentagon briefed US lawmakers on suspected “directed-energy attacks” on US troops that unnamed officials allege Russia was behind.
The only example cited in the report was an incident in Syria in Fall 2020 that allegedly affected several US troops, giving them “flu-like symptoms.” Shortly after the story was published, it was debunked by comments from Gen. Frank McKenzie, the head of US Central Command, which oversees US military operations in the Middle East.
“I have found no evidence of those attacks in US Central Command,” McKenzie told the Senate Armed Services Committee during a hearing. Before McKenzie’s comments were included in the Politico report, the original story said a Pentagon spokesperson told Politico that “the department is not aware of directed-energy attacks against US troops in Syria.”
Doubling down, Politico published another story about the threat of “directed-energy attacks” later on Thursday. This story cites more unnamed sources who say Pentagon officials briefed the House Armed Service Committee on Wednesday about the “growing and urgent threat of directed-energy attacks on US troops in the Middle East.”
The story said briefers also suspected Russia but had no evidence that Moscow was responsible for these alleged directed-energy attacks. One source told Politico that a briefer said the origin of the technology needed for such attacks is “more likely than not in Russia.” Another source said, “The briefers also pointed to China as a possible culprit, and didn’t know for sure who was behind the attacks.”
Politico’s sources also contradicted each other about the briefing. Four people “briefed on the matter” told Politico that the briefers “are especially concerned about the vulnerability of US personnel in the US Central Command area of operations. But another source that was described as a “Defense Department official” said the Central Command region was “not a part of the discussion.”
It’s tough to know how much truth there is to any of the claims made in these Politico reports, and they are likely just efforts to increase escalations against Moscow. But the US government has accused its adversaries of the types of attacks in the past that they claim are carried out using some high-powered radiofrequency or microwave devices.
Since 2016, there have been stories of US diplomats reporting headaches and illnesses that have became known as “Havana syndrome.” A recording was released to The Associated Press of noise that US diplomats said they heard when the symptoms started. Scientists analyzed the recording and concluded the noise was the call of a Caribbean species of cricket.
Regardless of the fact that crickets likely caused the so-called Havana Syndrome, Politico still cited the incident as an example of a possible energy-directed attack against US personnel.