The purpose of an intelligence agency is to gather all sorts of information that might alter the nation’s security. For it’s not just the army who is responsible for that. The officers appointed by these agencies are considered to be the best spies who hold the capability to dig out the deepest buried secrets. They’re trained to be remained undercover for years. If required, their identities are forged and there are times that these officers live with their forged identities for a good decade. They sacrifice their own identity to serve their nation and often live in a different country altogether.
We’ve curated a list of top 15 intelligence agencies around the world:
Top Intelligence Agencies in The World
1) Israel’s Mossad
Mossad was founded in the year 1949 and has its headquarters in Tel Aviv, Israel. Of all the world’s intelligence services, the most intriguing is Mossad. Its full title- the Institute for Intelligence and Special Services- sets the tone. Mossad is an institute, academic and scientific, combined with the firepower backup of special services. Clever man-tough man is the game it is best fitted to play. The fact that Mossad operates on behalf of a country surrounded by avowed enemy states in which every citizen is conscious of the continual threat of war makes it a secret service quite unlike any other.
2) USA’s Central Intelligence Agency
CIA was founded in the year 1947 and has its headquarters in Fairfax, USA. The CIA is an agency and calls itself a ‘company’. It is a civilian foreign intelligence service formed by the federal government of the United States. Their major task is to gather, process and analyze all sorts of information related to national security from around the world. CIA plays a major role in sustaining the USA’s dominant position as a superpower. CIA once opened a dummy corporation ‘Air America’ which seemed to be a civilian airline but generally conducted military operations.
RAW was founded in the year 1968 and has its headquarters in New Delhi, India. It was established after the intelligence failures of the Sino-Indian war. RAW was successful to attain the global prominence in the very first nine years of its tenure. Over the years, the agency has been working hard to counter-terrorism, proliferation, advising Indian policymakers and advancing India’s foreign strategic interests.
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4) Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence
ISI was founded in the year 1948 and has its headquarters in Islamabad, Pakistan. It consists of military officers that are drawn from either of the three branches- Army, Air Force, and Navy. Thus, it gets the name ‘Inter-Services’. ISI came into prominence during the 1980s when it supported the Afghan Mujahideen in the Soviet-Afghan war.
5) UK’s Military Intelligence, Section 6
MI-6 was founded in the year 1909 and has its headquarters in London, UK. It is one of the oldest intelligence agencies. It was earlier a part of the UK’s original secret service which was established in 1569 by Sir Francis Walsingham.
6) Australia’s Australian Secret Intelligence Service
ASIS was founded in the year 1952 and has its headquarters in Canberra, Australia. Its main purpose is to collect counter-intelligence information and liaising with the intelligence agencies of other countries. In their own words, their mission is to “protect and promote Australia’s vital interests through the provision of unique foreign intelligence services as directed by the Australian Government.” This is the only intelligence agency whose existence was hidden from their government for more than twenty years.
7) France’s Directorate General of External Security
DGES was founded in the year 1982 and has its headquarters in Paris, France. They perform paramilitary and counterintelligence operations abroad. DGSE has been responsible for engaging a good amount of economic espionage. The agency works alongside the Central Directorate of Interior Intelligence.
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8) Germany’s The Bundesnachrichtendienst
The BND was founded in the year 1956 and has its headquarters in Berlin, Germany. The BND is famous for heavily using wiretapping and electronic surveillance of international communication. It evaluates information related to weapons of mass destruction proliferation, illegal transfer of technology, organized crime, weapons, and drug trafficking, money laundering, illegal migration, and information warfare. It was founded during the Cold War.
9) China’s Ministry of State Security
Ministry of State Security was founded in the year 1983 and has its headquarters in Beijing, China. It is also referred to as the secret police agency. They majorly focus on the political security of the country. In their own words, their mission is “the security of the country through effective measures against enemy agents, spies, and counter-revolutionary activities designed to sabotage, destabilize or overthrow China’s socialist system.”
10) Russia’s Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation
FSD was founded in the year 1995 and has its headquarters in Lubyanka Square, Russia. Its main responsibilities are internal and border security, and surveillance as well as investigating some other types of grave crimes and federal law violations.
11) Canada’s Canadian Security Intelligence Service
CSIS was founded in the year 1984 and has its headquarters in Ottawa, Canada. Its main responsibilities are collection, analysis, reporting and dissemination of information related to threats on national security. Over the years, they have been running covert as well as covert operations to gather information. The intelligence agencies of the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand have created an alliance called the Five Eyes.
12) New Zealand’s New Zealand Security Intelligence Service
NZSIS was founded in the year 1956 and has its headquarters in Wellington, New Zealand. When it was initially founded, its primary function was to combat the increase in Soviet Intelligence operations. Their expanded roles also include monitoring chemical, biological and cyber threats.
13) Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization
It was founded in the year 1965 and has its headquarters in Etimesgut, Ankara. According to the former director of the organization, the military presence is negligible.
They generally hire relatives of the existing employees. Religious minorities in Turkey cannot ever apply for any position in this organization.
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14) South Korea’s National Intelligence Service
NIS was founded in the year 1961 and has its headquarters in Naegok-dong, Seoul. It was initially a part of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency. Their main responsibility is to coordinate domestic and international intelligence movements.
They have been actively involved in the nation’s politics and once admitted that they rigged the 2012 presidential elections.
15) North Korea’s Reconnaissance General Bureau
RGB was formed in the year 2009. RGB is regarded as North Korea’s clandestine operations organ. Initially, they used to perform commando raids, infiltrations, and disruptions. Their cyber intelligence is among the best in the world
All of these agencies are famous for gathering information by a variety of means, including signal gathering or intercepting, espionage, cryptanalysis, and another different method. You might not know that every country has more than one secret service, but only one stands out.
Apart from the agencies listed above, there would be many agencies being managed by individual countries. Go on, do your research and find about the rest of them.