Best Intelligence Agencies in the World
The role of intelligence agencies has always been unclear to many people across the globe. While the key role of the agencies is to ensure security against internal as well as external threats, there is definitely more detail to it. As you might be wondering, eliminating threats on state level is a collective job of several authorized state units. The list includes police, military and armed forces, and many other important state authorities that go hand in hand with the listed forces. While this may be valid, the role of intelligence agencies is quite diverse. Unlike armed forces and security units, these agencies follow a certain protocol and work in a confidential influence throughout the globe. There are many agencies operating around the world. However, we have brought you a list and details of the top 10 intelligence agencies of the world that will help you understand their role better.
How do the Intelligence Agencies operate?
Intelligence agencies have been serving against possible internal and external threats. These intelligence agencies are assigned with the task of gathering intelligence, conducting various forms of surveillance activities, playing a vital role in recommending the government specifically when it comes to national security matters, spreading fake information, and, in the case of some agencies, even carrying out assassinations. However, not all of these intelligence agencies are the same. Some of these are known better than others. These agencies will be based on absolute determination to deal with problems swiftly. Many of us don’t know about different intelligence agencies worldwide. So here we have gathered details to classify the top 10 intelligence agencies in the world
Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI)
The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is the premier intelligence agency of Pakistan, operationally responsible for gathering, processing, and analyzing national security information. As one of the principal members of the Pakistani intelligence community, the ISI reports to the Director-General and is primarily focused on providing intelligence for the Government of Pakistan.
Role of ISI
- Collection of information and extraction of intelligence from information
- Obtaining information critical to Pakistan’s strategic interests.
Ministry of State Security (MSS)
The first agency that made to our top intelligence agencies in the world is the Ministry of State Security (MSS). It was formed in 1983. It is the security and intelligence agency of China. It is headquartered in Beijing and has 17 known bureaus or divisions, including a counterintelligence division and a social research division.
Role of MSS
- The Ministry of State Security (MSS) plays a vital role in the following aspects:
- Censoring the internet in China
- Cutting off the population from the outside world
- Allowing the government to control what influences the Chinese people
- The agency is also responsible for handling internal opposition and anything that might cause citizens to rebel against the ruling Communist Party.
- The MSS is heavily involved in economic spying, with Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei being a prime suspect in helping the agency gather intelligence from around the world.
- With over 100,000 intelligence personnel both inside and outside China, the MSS has been able to play its part effectively, especially in regard to national security.
Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS)
Another service to make in our top intelligence agencies is the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS). It is headquartered in Canberra under the equivalent of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Role of ASIS
The Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) has been dealing with the following:
- ASIS mainly deals with international or foreign intelligence and typically coordinates with other similar agencies around the world.
- Like many other intelligence agencies, the ASIS has been involved in a number of incidents in the past.
- One of the most notable was in Papua New Guinea almost three decades ago. Allegedly, the ASIS has been trying to suppress independence movements in the country.
- The agency was also involved in the September 1973 Chilean coup d’état, despite being ordered to pull out months earlier.
- The ASIS was formed in 1952, though the public remained unaware of its existence until 1972 when the Australian tabloid newspaper The Daily Telegraph exposed the agency.
Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS)
Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) also made to our top 10 intelligence agencies. Canada is one of the safest countries in the world for which most of the credit goes to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the main intelligence agency in Canada.
Role of CSIS
- The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) has been dealing in the following aspects:
- The CSIS handles everything related to Canada’s national security.
- CSIS’s duties include collecting intelligence, running covert operations, and advising the government on potential security threats.
- The CSIS is also Canada’s representative in the Five Eyes, an intelligence alliance between the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The Five Eyes is considered one of the most extensive espionage alliances in history.
- Based in Ottawa, Ontario, the CSIS collects information from around the world and clears out anything that might pose a threat to Canada and its citizens.
- CSIS, however, holds a reputation for being too aggressive when it comes to running its activities in the name of national security.
Directorate-General for External Security (DGSE)
Another position among our top 10 intelligence agencies list in the world goes to Directorate-General for External Security (DGSE) which is basically operating under the French Ministry of Defence and is the French equivalent of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Role of DGSE
The Directorate-General for External Security (DGSE) deals in the following aspects:
- DGSE mainly deals with foreign intelligence and issues, with the Directorate-General for Internal Security handling domestic affairs.
- The DGSE conducts all manners of activities and operations relating to national security, which include running human intelligence operations and signals intelligence operations.
- Almost all agency operations are kept under a veil of secrecy and away from the public eye.
- The DGSE played a significant role during the Rwandan Civil War in the 1990s. The agency had the task of spreading false information, which laid the groundwork for increased French involvement during the late stages of the war.
- The DGSE also had a role during the Kosovo War between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Kosovo Liberation Army.
Research and Analysis Wing (RAW)
Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) is also one of the top intelligence agencies in the world. It is the foreign intelligence agency of India which probably has the least noticeable name out of all intelligence agencies in the world. However, RAW is one of the most capable in the world.
Role of RAW
- Formed in 1968 to specifically deal with foreign intelligence, the RAW plays an instrumental role in keeping India protected against terrorist attacks and monitoring developments in other countries which could directly affect India.
- The RAW regularly coordinates with other intelligence agencies and presumably has intelligence officers stationed all over the world.
- In particular, the agency regularly communicates with other well-known agencies such as the Central Intelligence Agency and Mossad in regard to monitoring Pakistan’s nuclear program and to disrupt peace in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal.
Federal Intelligence Service (BND)
Our top 10 intelligence agencies list also includes French Federal Intelligence Service (BND). The Bundesnachrichtendienst or the Federal Intelligence Service is the foreign intelligence agency of Germany. It was formed in 1956 and directly reports to the German Chancellery.
Role of BND
The Federal Intelligence Service (BND) deals in the following operations:
- Being the only overseas intelligence agency in the country, it is responsible for gathering both military and civil intelligence.
- The BND is tasked with detecting all possible threats to German interests and national security from overseas.
- The agency gathers information on terrorism, nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, organized crime, drug and illegal human trafficking, and illegal migration.
- The BND is known for mainly utilizing wiretapping and electronic espionage to collect information, a tactic often scrutinized by the public.
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
One of the top intelligence agencies in the world is the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). It is the foreign intelligence agency of the US. It collects information from overseas, with minimal information collection within the country. The CIA was formed in 1947, making it one of the oldest intelligence agencies on this list.
Role of CIA
- The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been serving in the following aspects:
- The agency is tasked with monitoring overseas developments that might threaten the US, especially relating to terrorism and nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.
- The agency also handles counterintelligence and cyber warfare.
- Apart from gathering information, the CIA also runs covert paramilitary operations.
- The agency has been involved in numerous scandals and controversies over the years.
Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR)
Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) holds another spot in our top 10 intelligence agencies list. The Foreign Intelligence Service is the civilian foreign intelligence agency of the Russian Federation. It is the successor to the First Chief Directorate of the KGB and works closely with the Main Intelligence Directorate, the military foreign intelligence agency of Russia.
Role of SVR
The Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) deals in the following tasks:
- Unlike the Federal Security Service, which mainly deals with internal affairs, the SVR is responsible for gathering intelligence outside the country.
- The SVR is tasked with running various forms of surveillance, including military and economic espionage, and conducting electronic surveillance in foreign countries.
- The SVR has also been involved in alleged assassinations abroad and internet disinformation.
Secret Intelligence Service (SIS)
Another contender in our top intelligence agencies is the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS). The Secret Intelligence Service is the foreign intelligence agency of the UK. It is commonly known as MI6 and is one of the most popular agencies on this list. The MI6 was formed more than 100 years ago, making it one of the oldest intelligence agencies in the world.
Role of SIS
- The SIS or MI6 deals in the following operations:
- Like almost all the other agencies on this list, the MI6 primarily deals with external affairs, leaving internal affairs to the MI5.
- The MI6 gathers and analyzes information from overseas.
- It focuses on information related to terrorism, nuclear weapons, drug trafficking, organized crime, and other activities that could threaten the UK’s interests and national security.
- It also coordinates with other foreign intelligence agencies such as the Central Intelligence Agency.
- Its track record is far from immaculate, however. In recent years, it has been involved in controversies relating to how it handles its operations.
Mossad also ranks amongst top intelligence agencies of the world. It is the national intelligence agency of Israel. It is one of the three branches of the Israeli Intelligence Community – the other two being Shin Bet and Aman, which handles internal security and military intelligence.
Role of Mossad
Mossad deals in the following operations:
- Mossad mainly deals with foreign intelligence, collecting information on overseas developments that might threaten Israeli interests and security.
- The agency runs covert operations and has its own counter-terrorism unit, the Kidon.
- Like other foreign intelligence agencies, Mossad cooperates with other similar entities from other countries.
- It has been reported that Mossad cooperates with Middle Eastern countries, with the common topic being Iran’s nuclear program.
- Mossad has also cooperated with the Central Intelligence Agency and the Research and Analysis Wing in the past.
What are the top 10 intelligence agencies in the world?
- Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI)
- Ministry of State Security (MSS)
- Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS)
- Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS)
- Directorate-General for External Security (DGSE)
- Research and Analysis Wing (RAW)
- Federal Intelligence Service (BND)
- Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
- Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR)
- Secret Intelligence Service (SIS)
There has been no change observed in the rankings of the world agencies. These stats were last updated on July 18, 2022