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Top 10 Intelligence Agencies in the World That'll Leave You in Awe

Top 10 Intelligence Agencies in the World
Intelligence agencies are institutions responsible for the consistent safety and smooth-sailing of a country, devoid of any foreign invasions, terrorist attacks, and possible territorial encroachment and assailing by other countries. Read about the countries that have designed the most amazing and intricate intelligence systems, to keep their political, social, economic, historic, and traditional stats safe and intact.
Shweta Ajwani
Last Updated: Feb 10, 2018
"To lack intelligence is to be in the ring blindfolded."
- General David M. Shoup, U.S. Marine Corps
Commandant of the Marine Corps, 1960
An intelligence agency is an organization formed by government authorities that aims at safeguarding critical assets of a country, that include, but are not limited to, civil law enforcement, national security, defense culture, army-military-navy operations, and national and international crisis management.

The main task of an intelligence bureau is to collect relevant, significant, and congruent information about matters that are of paramount importance to the nation's integrity. This is followed by further analysis of the information collected, and a thorough evaluation of the source(s) from which the data has been obtained. This information is classified and needs utmost protection. Based on the data and its interpretation, the system decides its course of action, chalks out a plan that needs to be executed, takes into consideration the amount of manpower, machine power, and intelligence that will be required, and embarks on its journey.
Flag of israel
❑ Country: Israel
❑ Year of Formation: 1949
❑ Headquarters: Tel Aviv
❑ Agency Executive: Tamir Pardo, Director
Dubbed as the 'world's most efficient killing machine' by Gordon Thomas, Mossad is Israel's national intelligence agency. Mossad, which is Hebrew for 'Institute', is the short-form for HaMossad leModiʿin uleTafkidim Meyuḥadim, which is Hebrew for 'Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations'. Its alliances are Aman and Shin Bet, which handle Israel's military intelligence and internal security respectively. The primary basis of Mossad's formation was the underlying need to have a central body that controlled and boosted the coordination between the military departments.

In 1949, the then Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion, suggested that such an organization be formed at the earliest. That is when, on the 13th of December, 1949, the 'Central Institute for Coordination' (later to be renamed as Mossad)' was born. Later, in 1951, the institute was officially re-formed, and designated to report to the Prime Minister's office.

Apart from performing the basic operations of intelligence collection, counter-terrorism, national security, crisis management, information gathering, and the likes, Mossad's priority is to provide avant-garde protection for Jewish communities. This involves guiding Jews into Israel from countries that don't allow the official and legal existence of Aliyah (immigration of Jews from other countries to Israel) agencies.

Identified as the topmost, most efficient and powerful of all Israeli intelligence agencies, Mossad takes on covert and clandestine operations, that include target killings, paramilitary campaigns, and espionage actions, that aim at protecting Jews the world over.

A noteworthy incident in the history of Mossad that spells utter prominence is the capture, deportation, and execution of Adolf Eichmann (19 March 1906 - 31 May 1962), a German Nazi SS-Obersturmbannführer (lieutenant colonel). Eichmann also played a key role in the facilitation of the Holocaust; a race extermination operation during World War II, that annihilated more than six million Jews residing all over Europe. According to Mossad, the Jewish benefactor, the brutality of such an atrocious act deserved revenge. Mossad operatives implemented a successful seizure of Eichmann in Argentina, where he had fled to after the war. Charged guilty under various heinous crimes of war and cruelty against humanity, Adolf Eichmann was hanged to death in 1962.
"Where no counsel is, the people fall, but in the multitude of counselors there is safety."
Flag of america
◆ Country: United States of America
◆ Year of Formation: 1947
◆ Headquarters: Virginia
◆ Agency Executive: John O. Brennan, Director
The formation of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was a gradual process, resulting in one of the finest and undoubtedly the largest intelligence bureau in the world. Formed on the 18th of September, 1947, the CIA today is 65 years old, and is going strong with an enormous employee count of around 20,000 agents.

The CIA was not the first intelligence system devised by US officials. The Office of Strategic Services (OSS), Central Intelligence Group (CIG), and National Intelligence Authority, were some of the organizations that were formed before the CIA was institutionalized.

The CIA is the largest intelligence executive agency that reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence. It has guaranteed access to an extensive and vast amount of information, that impacts or may affect the US government, policies, and national security, directly or otherwise. This information is assembled, analyzed, sorted, and submitted to senior US policy makers by special agents who are trained for the same. Other than collecting information, the CIA workforce is involved in performing clandestine operations, covert procedures, counterintelligence, and counter terrorism acts, that aim at safeguarding America's vital assets.

The efficiency of the CIA has been scrutinized by many regarding its method of operation, inadequate intelligence analysis, poor human rights concerns, deficit external investigations, illicit practices of influencing public opinions and administration of law. And these apprehensions find solid ground in events where the CIA failed to control brutal terrorist attacks, which include the infamous 9/11 twin-tower blitz.

Nevertheless, the CIA should be given full credit for capturing the notorious Osama bin Laden, leader and founder of Al-Qaeda, a global militant Islamic organization. On the 1st of May, 2011, President Barack Obama announced to the world that Laden had been killed in Pakistan by Americans in a CIA operation. CIA paramilitary operatives were aided by members of the US Navy's Naval Special Warfare Development Group, to bring about the successful execution of Osama bin Laden, which was code-named Operation Neptune Spear.

Not only did the loss of their leader weaken the group, but the CIA crew was able to procure vital details about militant and terrorist activities related to Al-Qaeda, that were frame-worked for the future. This gain of information widened the scope of the CIA officials, which enabled them put a hold over terrorist plans and keep a check on any further development of their activities.
"And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free."
Flag of uk
► Country: United Kingdom
► Year of Formation: 1909
► Headquarters: London
► Agency Executive: Sir John Sawers KCMG, The Chief of SIS
The Secret Intelligence Service, also known as MI6 (Military Intelligence, Section 6), is a derivation of the Secret Service Bureau (SSB). The SSB was formed in 1909, and was mainly responsible for closely examining the activities of the Imperial German Government. The bureau had separate divisions that focused on foreign undercover activities, as well as domestic and internal undercover operations and espionage activities. However, after the advent of the First World War, these separate sections bracketed to give way to the Directorate of Military Intelligence Section 6 (MI6).

The first director of this organization was Sir George Mansfield Smith-Cumming, who was acknowledged greatly for his outstanding prefabrication of this post-imperial intelligence service.

The MI6 operates to provide Her Majesty's government with foreign intelligence, information and updates about foreign espionage, updates about internal and international secret activities that could affect UK policies, and national security management. It is affiliated with the Joint Intelligence Committee, and works in alliance with the Internal Security Service (MI5), the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), and the Defense Intelligence (DI). Recently, in 2010, the current head of SIS, Sir Robert John Sawers, delivered a speech about the need to maintain secrecy and security within Britain. In the 101-year history of the agency, this was the first ever public addressing by a serving chief.

The British empire is most vulnerable and susceptible to attacks from terrorist groups like the Al-Qaeda. These underground activist camps, mainly the ones located in or around the borders of Afghanistan and Pakistan, pose a serious threat to the security, intelligence, stability, and integrity of the UK. The MI6 has proved its efficiency, and has continued doing so ever since its formation. Along with keeping terrorism at bay, it has taken substantial measures to ensure that UK citizens do not get involved in such activities, or, if there is any involvement, it is curbed and nipped in the bud.

The SIS's topmost priority is the safety of the nation and its citizens from terror threats and attacks. It does not hesitate when it comes to maintaining negotiations with services around the world that are willing and ready to help it.

It has applied a strategy to deal with counter-terrorism and international terrorism. The strategy is called CONTEST, which blocks people from turning into terrorists, terminates terrorist attacks, regenerating substantial potential against terrorists and their undercover operations, and mitigate its impact on the victims. The strategies may be many, but the sole aim of MI6 remains to reduce the risks and contingencies from terrorists and their radical activities.
"Semper Occultus." or "Always Secret."
Flag of pakistan
★ Country: Pakistan
★ Year of Formation: 1948
★ Headquarters: Islamabad
★ Agency Executive: Lt. General Zaheer ul-Islam
The Directorate for the Inter-Services Intelligence, mostly known as Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), officially came into existence in 1948, just a year after Pakistan was formed. The predecessors of the ISI were the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Military Intelligence (MI), which were later confederated. The ISI was formed when these two independent bureaus displayed weak coordination, and failed systematization between each other and also between the three departments, namely the Army, Navy, and Air Force. The ISI was a rectification of these shortcomings, in the sense that it had personnel from each of the military departments, and was to pursue the collection, analysis, processing, and authentication of international intelligence.

The ISI was formed by Australian-born British Army chief Major General Robert Cawthome (then the Deputy Chief of Staff in the Pakistan Army).

The ISI is the primary, most important, and largest of all the intelligence agencies of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. (The others being the IB and the MI). It reports directly to the Government of Pakistan, with crucial information about the national security of Pakistan, foreign intelligence, and intelligence assessment. It is also solely responsible to perform any covert activities or espionage operations for all three departments of the Pakistan Armed Forces.

The ISI is known to have provided assistance to the Taliban, a cardinal Islamic political undertaking from Afghanistan, by providing them with strategic and foreign intelligence, that dealt with the Indo-Iranian patronage towards the Northern Alliance during the civil war of the 1990s.

The ISI has dedicated sections that deal with the assemblage of information that is of strategic precedence to Pakistan, derivation of intelligence from the information gathered, segregation and classification of intelligence, and counterintelligence. These departments may use overt or covert espionage techniques to accomplish the above mentioned activities.

Many praises have been sung about ISI, as it boasts of holding the record of the maximum number of successful operations it has carried out. Dubbed as the best intelligence team so far, the ISI claims that none of their officials or agents have ever been caught on camera. Another feather was added to ISI's cap, when it was exclusively able to prevent the biggest Soviet invasion into Pakistan. This feat still remains unequaled. Other statistics that put ISI apart from the rest of the intelligence agencies of the world are a smaller employee count, extremely minimilast monetary investment, it is placed above all jurisdiction, legislation, laws and decree of Pakistan.
"Faith, Unity, Discipline"
Flag of china
✦ Country: China
✦ Year of Formation: 1983
✦ Headquarters: Beijing
✦ Agency Executive: Geng Huichang, Minister of State Security
Today, the most effective and impelling security agency active in the People's Republic of China is the Ministry of State Security (MSS) of the Government of the People's Republic of China. It also doubles up as the largest foreign intelligence agency China has ever witnessed. Its headquarters is located in Beijing, near the Ministry of Public Security.

The MSS not only takes matters of international magnitude within its stride, but also follows up with matters of domestic security of the Chinese Republic. According to Article 4 established in the Criminal Procedure Law, the MSS has exactly the same authority to arrest or detain a Chinese citizen who has breached the law by practicing unfair means that affect China's state security.

The first and foremost, and most important objective of the MSS is to be alert 24x7, and collect any information that might be related to the Chinese Republic's state security or international affairs. It is the MSS's duty to filter this collected information according to the level of relevance, importance, authentication, urgency to process, priority, and correctness. This analyzed information is then used to optimize Liu Fuzhi, the Secretary-General of the Commission for Politics and Law under the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, who is also the Minister of Public Security, who declared that the MSS swears by the objective of ensuring complete safety and protection of the state and its system from potential threats like foreign spies, agencies of other states and nations, state enemies, and any counter-revolutionary activities.

The MSS specifically targets U.S. Military technology, and is on a long-term mission to acquire any classified or confidential information related to it. To achieve this long-standing goal, the MSS opts for various techniques that include counterintelligence, counter-terrorism operations, providing support to the military as well as the law enforcement departments.

The MSS has also maintained extremely neat and commendable relations with other intelligence agencies around the world. They are known to have sent officials overseas to places like Macau, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, and have integrated themselves into Chinese communities to avoid suspicion.

Claims suggest that there was a time when at least 120 Chinese intelligence agents who were spread in regions of U.S., Canada, Western and Northern Europe, and Japan, were retracted back to China . These agents were working as under-cove officials to obtain classified intelligence information. The number of these officials itself explains the reach that the MSS has all around the world, and also explains its geographical scope.
BUNDESNACHRICHTENDIENST (BND or Federal Intelligence Service)
Flag of germany
● Country: Germany
● Year of Formation: 1956
● Headquarters: Pullach and Berlin
● Agency Executive: Gerhard Schindler, President
The Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), also known as the Federal Intelligence Service, is Germany's foreign intelligence agency. It was formed on the 1st of April, 1956. The BND is a derivation of the Gehlen Organization, which was formed by Wehrmacht Major General Reinhard Gehlen. The Gehlen Organization was initially programmed to aid the US intelligence agency, CIA. Later, in April 1956, the BND was formed and its reins were handed over to the West German Government. The first President to hold office of the newly formed BND was Reinhard Gehlen, who continued to lead it till 1968.

The BND covers an extremely vast expanse of Deutschland. It has 300 locations in Germany and around the world together. The BND operates by making excessive use of methods like wire tapping, electronic surveillance of international communication, and supervision of foreign intelligence exchange. These methods are used to perform espionage, covert as well as overt operations that deal with territorial and international terrorism, corrupt and illegitimate transfer of technology, immoral and scandalous trade of drugs and weapons, unlicensed immigration, and smuggled warfare.

The BND is headquartered in Pullach near Munich, as well as in Berlin. 2014 will see the Berlin headquarters being centralized for good.

BND is Germany's only overseas intelligence agency, and hence, works for the military as well as the civil departments. It gathers information and intelligence about matters that concern the security of Germany or pose a threat to the land and people of Germany. It functions as an alert system that immediately generates warning signals for the German Government as soon as they sense danger or potential malicious attacks. Among many success stories of how the BND has been an efficacious organization, one that deserves high praise is the Munich Massacre. A Palestinian group named Black September kidnapped 11 members of the Israeli Olympics team, and ultimately killed them. The BND took this in its stride, and it was then that the organization built its counter-terrorism department.
Flag of russia
➤ Country: Russia
➤ Year of Formation: 1995
➤ Headquarters: Moscow
➤ Agency Executive: Aleksandr Bortnikov, Director
The Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation or the Federal Security Service (FSB), is Russia's state security organization. Headquartered in Moscow, on Lubyanka Square, the FSB takes on the responsibilities of border security, international as well as domestic terrorism, counter-terrorism, counter-intelligence, surveillance, and maintains decorum in the entire state of Russia.

The FSB is the central and most important domestic security agency of the Russian Federation. It is also the foremost derivative agency (successor) of the Soviet Committee of State Security (KGB). The official existence of the FSB was declared on the 12th of April, 1955, by the authorization of President Boris Yeltsin. The FSB had the Federal Counterintelligence Service (FSK) as its predecessor. Yeltsin passed a law which required the reconstruction of the FSK, thus building up the FSB. Alexander Bortnikov holds the office of the FSB as the body President from 2008 to the present date.

In a nutshell, the operations of the FSB include counterintelligence, counter-terrorism, targeted killing, border protection, export control, intimidation of foreign diplomats and journalists. Eight years after its establishment, in 2003, the FSB was integrated with the Border Guard Service and the Federal Agency of Government Communication and Information (FAPSI).

Although it focuses chiefly on the domestic and internal security of the state of Russia, it also holds accountability to prevent and stabilize events that deal with counterespionage, crime rates, terrorist attacks, and drug trafficking. If the need to conduct foreign electronic surveillance arises, the FSB does so with the help of the FAPSI.

This agency is crucial and important in a way that, all administrations related to the law and every intelligence agency of Russia work under its leadership, guidance, and management.

Recent developments in the methods of the FSB include wiretapping Skype calls, which has been declared as a legitimate practice. Not only this, but also the location of a particular Skype user can be detected by the FSB.

Although it has proven its efficiency at many different levels, the FSB has garnered a certain amount of criticism. The areas that have spelled out this critique of the FSB include encroachment of human rights, corruption, and overriding of internal disagreement. Apart from these factors, one of the major reasons for which the FSB has come under the critical scanner is its failure to control the rise of Islamic terrorism in Russia.

The FSB is renowned for using proficient tactics like Zersetzung, which literally means 'corrosion' or 'undermining'; a technique that was used to viciously harass individuals and prisoners.
"Better red than dead."
Flag of france
❑ Country: France
❑ Year of Formation: 1982
❑ Headquarters: Paris
❑ Agency Executive: Bernard Bajolet, Director
Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure (DGSE), which is French for General Directorate for External Security, is an independent intelligence agency working externally for the state of France. It maintains a parallel collaboration with the Central Directorate of Interior Intelligence (DCRI) under the jurisdiction of the French ministry of defense.

The DGSE evolved in 1982 from an organization named Service de Documentation Extérieure et de Contre-Espionnage (SDECE). The SDECE held office as the external French intelligence agency from 6th November, 1944 to 2nd April, 1982. It was however dishonored from the position and lost its independent status in the 1960s, when it was found to be involved in the Mehdi Ben Barka murder scandal. It was authorized and managed by the French ministry of defense until 1981, when it was restructured. On April 2, 1982, the Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure was officially brought into existence.

The foremost call and duty of the DGSE is to administer and contribute intelligence, national and international security, and support to the state and the people of France. It executes paramilitary and counterintelligence activities and operations in foreign countries to accomplish this task. Following on the same lines, its other operations include gathering intelligence (domestic as well as international), analysis and authentication of the intelligence, and providing the French constitution with national security.

The assemblage of intelligence is carried out in different ways. HUMINT is the collection of intelligence with the help of formal agents, correspondents, and voluntary delegates. Another way in which intelligence is gathered is SIGINT, which makes use of signals, networks, programs, and other electronic means. Space imagery analysis is another way in which intelligence is collected and processed to maintain the safekeeping of the French constitution.

The DGSE has been involved in many scandals that dealt with its intense rivalry with the Soviet KGB as well as the CIA. One such instance was when a senior French intelligence bureaucrat confessed that the DGSE had executed economic intelligence activities against Frenchmen in America.
"In every place where necessity makes law."
Flag of india
◆ Country: India
◆ Year of Formation: 1968
◆ Headquarters: New Delhi
◆ Agency Executive: Alok Joshi, Secretary
The establishment of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), India's external intelligence agency, was the result of the failure of the Intelligence Bureau (IB), an organization which was responsible for the internal as well as external intelligence affairs of the Indian subcontinent until 1968. The IB's dis-satisfactory performance and administration during the Indo-China war in 1962, and the Indo-Pak war in 1965, was a wake-up call, which made officials realize that it was time to develop an independent organization that would be efficacious in handling affairs of external intelligence for the Republic of India.

The official date of formation of RAW is 21st September, 1968. Rameshwar Nath Kao, who was the head of IB's external intelligence division, was the first head of RAW, and held office as its leader until 1977.

The headquarters of RAW is located in New Delhi, and the office is currently being held by Alok Joshi, an IPS officer from the 1976 batch of the Haryana cadre.

Initially, when RAW was a newly-formed division, its basic and most important function was to boost its capability of gathering intelligence that dealt with covert operations being planned in China, Pakistan, East Pakistan (which is now Bangladesh), against India. As time passed, RAW widened its scope and took the responsibilities of the political, military, and foreign affairs under its wings. This included supervision and analysis of significant developments in the fields of military and politics in neighboring countries and provinces, which could possibly affect India's national security.

RAW also plays an important role in administering the functioning and security of its nuclear program.

When it is said that 'RAW has been an effective instrument of India's national power', the magnitude of its importance in the rise of the nation's prowess can be fathomed. Many successes have been accredited to RAW over the years for its commendable self-growth, as well as for its influence on its neighboring countries. RAW played a major role in the establishment of Bangladesh as an independent nation, in Sikkim's accession to India, in the management and security of its nuclear program, and in the success of the African liberation movements during the Cold War.

RAW has maintained ironed relations ever since its establishment with other intelligence agencies of the world, like MOSSAD, CIA, and KHAD, to name a few. However, it still continues to remain at loggerheads with the MSS and ISI.
Primary Mission
"Aggressive intelligence collection via espionage, psychological warfare, subversion and sabotage."
Flag of australia
► Country: Australia
► Year of Formation: 1952
► Headquarters: Canberra, Australia
► Agency Executive: Nick Warner, Director-General
Analogous to the British intelligence agency, MI6, and the American intelligence agency, CIA, the Australian intelligence agency ASIS (Australian Secret Intelligence Service), reports directly to the Australian government, and is associated with activities like counter-intelligence, assembling foreign intelligence, counter-terrorism, and coordinating with other intelligence agencies around the world.

ASIS was formed on the 13th of May, 1952, when the then Australian Prime Minister Robert Menzies authorized it as the official intelligence agency of the Australian subcontinent. Alfred Deakin Brookes was designated as the head of the nascent organization. The secrecy of the existence of ASIS within the government itself was maintained for a shockingly long period of twenty years.

The agency is headquartered in Canberra. It is being led by the current Director General Nick Warner.

The ASIS was institutionalized with the aim 'to obtain and distribute secret intelligence, and to plan for and conduct special operations as may be required'. Its responsibilities include collecting foreign intelligence, taking on counter-intelligence operations, executing covert or overt national security operations, and maintaining coordinated relations with other intelligence agencies around the world. Its main interests include protecting the state of Australia and its citizens from possible sociology-economic or terrorist threats from other countries.

The ASIS has been considerably modeled along the lines of the British intelligence agency, the MI6. Due to this, it was referred to as MO9 at one point of time. It has been linked to many controversies, including the Sheraton Hotel incident, where a mock secretive operation went out of control and horribly wrong. Furthermore, former ASIS officers went on to declare that ASIS was out of control and incomprehensible. This declaration created havoc among officials, and it was long before the ripples came to rest.
"Protect and promote Australia's vital interests through the provision of unique foreign intelligence services as directed by Government."
The mark of an accomplished and efficient intelligent system is completion of tasks characterized by outright discretion, flawless processes, impeccable perfection, and achievement of positive results, results that were expected right at the start of the operation.