Directorate of General Security

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Directorate of General Security
al-Amn al-‘Amm
Iraqi General Security Directorate logo.png
DGS logo
Agency overview
Formed 1921 under the Ministry of the Interior
Dissolved 2003
Jurisdiction Government of Iraq
Headquarters Baghdad, Iraq
Employees 10,000 (2002)
Agency executive
  • Rafi Abd al-Latif Tilfah al-Tikriti (1997–2003), Director
Parent agency Independent
For the current Iraqi domestic intelligence agency, see General Security Directorate (Iraq).

The Directorate of General Security (DGS) also called Internal State Security, secret police[1] or some variation thereof (Arabic: al-Amn al-‘Amm or simply Amn‎) was a domestic Iraqi intelligence agency.


The DGS was founded in 1921 during the Iraqi monarchy, and it operated under the Ministry of the Interior until 1968.[2] Its police and army officers were charged with the "general security of the state and its property", which included the use of torture and monitoring of dissent.[3]

Kzar coup

Nadhim Kzar was named director by Saddam Hussein in 1969 after DGS had deteriorated under 10 years (1958–1968) of army rule.[4] Kzar was known for his sadism, and during his term the DGS tortured and killed thousands. Much of this violence was directed against the Iraqi Communist Party and Iraqi Kurds; in fact, Kzar twice attempted to assassinate Kurdish leader Mustafa Barzani.[4]

Kzar was a Shia Muslim and was angered by the Sunni hold on power in Iraq. Motivated by this he led an ultimately unsuccessful coup in 1973 against President Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr, including taking hostage both the Minister of the Interior Sa'adiun Gheidan and the Army Chief of Staff and Minister of Defense General Hamid Shehab. Bakr was supposed to be assassinated when his plane landed in Baghdad, but a flight delay caused Kzar to abort the assassination and flee. As his convoy attempted to escape to Iran, Iraqi helicopter gunships attacked, leading to his capture and the death and wounding of General Shehab and Minister Gheidan respectively. Kzar was found guilty on July 7 by the Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council under Izzat Ibrahim ad-Douri and executed that same month for his actions.[5]


As a result of this internal uprising Saddam Hussein sought a secret agreement with KGB head Yuri Andropov late that same year, which led to a close relationship that included intelligence exchange, Iraqi training in KGB and GRU schools, a thorough DGS reorganization under the advice of the KGB, equipment for surveillance and interrogation, and Iraqi embassy support of Soviet agents in countries without Soviet relations.[6]

A '1974 Political Report of the Arab Socialist Baath Party' acknowledged the failings of the government in controlling the DGS. It read, "The State security service, though reinforced throughout by Party members and independent patriots, was an immense machine which, under previous regimes, had used blackmail against the party and other national movements, and thus had evolved a peculiar psychology. To reform it, to make it adopt new values and practices was therefore very difficult. It has indeed made serious mistakes during the period under review [1968–1973], to the detriment of the Party's reputation and policy in various fields. The leadership was at fault in allowing this sensitive organisation to operate without rigorous and careful control. Some officers of this service abused the confidence placed in them by the Party, to the extent of conspiring against the Party, as in the plot of 30 June 1973. This criminal enterprise alerted the part to the dangers of inadequate control, and extensive changes were made."[7]

Hussein era

The DGS was set up as an independent entity reporting directly to the president in the late 1970s[2] or 1989.[1] In 1980 Hussein decided to expand Baathist ideology within the ranks by appointing as director his first cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid. Majid led the DGS throughout the Iran–Iraq War, transforming it into a political force notorious for "torture, kidnapping, murder, and rape".[3]

During the 1991 uprisings in Iraq the DGS was targeted by insurgents, including a battle at the headquarters in Sulaimaniyah. Tons of documents were seized by Kurdish guerrillas and civilians, and while much was shipped to the United States, some were kept by Kurdish parties and individuals.[1] The uprising led Saddam Hussein to create the Emergency Forces (Qawat al-Tawaria) to be a new paramilitary branch of the agency. The DGS also began to solicit greater information on foreigners in Iraq, with reports coming in from taxi drivers like those around the Al-Rashid Hotel and from the Ministry of Culture and Information guides and translators, who were a journalist's only option when visiting Iraq.[8]

In 2002 Jane's Intelligence Review reported that the GSD had 10,000 personnel, mainly Baath party members.[9]

In April 2002 a defector who was a lieutenant colonel in the DGS stated that 40% of the rank and file DGS personnel were not showing up for work, but were instead preparing forged papers and exchanging for dollars and euros.[10] The last director of DGS before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Rafi Abd al-Latif Tilfah al-Tikriti, was the Jack of Hearts in the U.S. military's most-wanted Iraqi playing cards. He remains at large,[11] and according to the Defense Intelligence Agency, was a leader in the insurgency against American forces as of May 2004.[12] DGS was officially dissolved on May 23, 2003 per Order Number 2 of the Coalition Provisional Authority under Paul Bremer.[13]

Known directors

See also


  1. ^ a b c Hiltermann, Joost. Bureaucracy of Repression: The Iraqi Government in Its Own Words. Human Rights Watch, 1994. Retrieved January 27, 2007.
  2. ^ a b c d e f al-Marashi, Ibrahim (September 2002). "Iraq's Security and Intelligence Network: A Guide and Analysis". Middle East Review of International Affairs. Archived from the original on 2008-01-10. Retrieved 2008-01-23. 
  3. ^ a b Hiro, Dilip. Neighbors, Not Friends: Iraq and Iran After the Gulf Wars. Routledge, 2004. ISBN 0-415-25411-6 p. 54–55
  4. ^ a b c al-Khalil, Samir. Republic of Fear: The Inside Story of Saddam's Iraq. New York, Pantheon Books: 1989 ISBN 0-679-73502-X p. 6
  5. ^ Arbish, Said K. Saddam Hussein: The Politics of Revenge. New York: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2000. ISBN 1-58234-050-1 p. 103–105
  6. ^ al-Khalil, 12–13.
  7. ^ or 1965/books?id=frDO73fi83IC&pg=PA6&lpg=PA6&dq=Nadhim+Kzar&source=bl&ots=OhUaPx-MYW&sig=uib3k6vk3D_P8IL9cAk-vnkEqvM&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwihhKXdr77XAhUCXhoKHfJMCa8Q6AEIODAC#v=onepage&q=Nadhim%20Kzar&f=false
  8. ^ Hiro, Dilip. Iraq: In the Eye of the Story. Thunder's Mouth Press, 2002. ISBN 1-56025-477-7 p. 62
  9. ^ Gause, Ken. "Can the Iraqi security apparatus save Saddam?", Jane's Intelligence Review, November 1, 2002.
  10. ^ Borger, Julian. "Iraq rearming for war, say defectors: Gun running Baghdad buying up east European weapons: Baghdad buying up weapons, say defectors", The Guardian, April 29, 2002.
  11. ^ a b Smith, David (2006-12-31). "Hunting the pack". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2008-01-23. 
  12. ^ Jehl, Douglas; Schmitt, Eric (2004-06-13). "Errors Are Seen in Early Attacks on Iraqi Leaders". The New York Times. Archived from the original on June 21, 2012. Retrieved 2008-12-09. 
  13. ^ Coalition Provisional Authority Order Number 2: Dissolution of Entities
  14. ^ Cordesman, Anthony H. Iraq and the War of Sanctions: Conventional Threats and Weapons of Mass Destruction. Greenwood Publishing Group, 1999. ISBN 0-275-96528-7 p. 155
  15. ^ a b "Saddam appoints new intelligence, security heads", Al-Sharq al-Awsat, October 20, 1999. Translated by BBC Worldwide Monitoring.
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