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The Condensed History of AHIs


Advanced Echelon

Anomalous Health Incidents (AHIs) have existed in one form or another since the 1950’s.

Moscow Signal:  From the 1950's to 1970's, Soviet intelligence bathed the US Embassy and diplomatic quarters in Moscow with harmful microwave transmissions every day with what was code named project ‘TUMS’’—Technical Unidentified Moscow Signal.  U.S. diplomats were not told about the threat. The health effects on diplomats and their families were similar to what we see today. The survivors were accused of mass hysteria.

U.S. officials took actions to convince the Soviet government to shut off the signal. The first high-level meeting took place in a 1967 New Jersey summit held between U.S. President Lyndon Johnson and Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin. At a side meeting, Secretary of State Dean Rusk told Soviet foreign minister Andrei Gromyko that “we were very much concerned at an electro-magnetic signal directed at our Chancery building in Moscow.” “We did not know the purpose of this activity,” Rusk said, according to a declassified memorandum of conversation, but the U.S. wanted “the matter to be investigated and the activity stopped.” In response, Soviet ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin suggested that the U.S. was conducting “similar activity” against the Soviet Mission in New York and the Soviet Embassy in Washington.

The daily doses of radiation continued. By mid-1975, U.S. intelligence monitors detected additional, and stronger, signals aimed at the Embassy. Hundreds of diplomats, security and intelligence officers, and their families who lived in the residence section of the Consulate building, were unknowingly exposed to radiation for up to 19 hours a day.  The earliest survivors' medical complaints were dismissed as mass hysteria.

The U.S. ambassador Walter Stoessel took action to take care of his country team in 1975 when he forcefully pushed a reluctant Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, to pressure the Kremlin to terminate the transmissions and to authorize a classified briefing for the Embassy staff. Up until this point the staff were not aware of the existence of the Moscow Signal. A strictly confidential Embassy staff briefing was held in 1976. Sensitive information Ambassador Stoessel shared with U.S. Embassy personnel immediately leaked to U.S. newspapers, setting off a major scandal in U.S.-Soviet relations and resulted in a Congressional Investigation which was completed in 1979. 

As a result, about 350 adults who were Moscow embassy employees or dependents were tested and compared with a control group of 1,000 diplomats present in the United States. Lymphocyte counts from the Moscow Embassy subjects were an average 41% higher than the control group, proving that there had been major health impacts.

Havana Syndrome:   Most people think this all started in Havana in 2016, the widely reported "Havana Syndrome", consisting of mysterious health incidents impacting foreign embassy staff living in Cuba.  This led to the US withdrawing most of its embassy staff and suspending consular services in 2017. Those affected reported a range of conditions including migraines, dizziness, vertigo, fatigue, nausea, anxiety, cognitive difficulties and memory loss. In some cases, diplomats and intelligence officers were forced to leave active service due to complications from their conditions. 

Early reports were dismissed as psychosomatic or cases of mass hysteria.  Further medical research on the cohort proved that permanent damage was being done. See the 60 Minutes section in Insights to hear from the victims and visit the service section to learn what we can do together.

AHIs: This global problem set has impacted the USG around the world and at home. AHIs is the term used by the USG to describe the symptoms of these incidents seen in our “Care” section under services. The HAVANA Act, as well as additional authorities that Congress has secured, were steps in the right direction. Now it is time to take decisive action to take care of our people and seek attribution together, contact us for more information on how we can help your organization.

(Sources: National Security Archive, CBS, CNN and Washington Post)

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