Jefferson Morley | October 12, 2018
Iran: Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS)
MOIS is one of two organizations responsible for conducting covert activities outside of Iran. The other is the Qods Force, a branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard (IRGC).
The agency was first established as SAVAK in 1957 with the help of the United States and Israel. After the Islamic Revolution of 1979, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini, continued to use SAVAK personnel for counterintelligence purposes but divided other intelligence functions among among a variety of groups including the IRGC, the Kumitehs (small neighborhood security committees), the Prime Minister’s Intelligence Office, the army, and the police.
In 2012 the Obama administration sanctioned MOIS for “for its support to terrorist groups as well as its central role in perpetrating human rights abuses.”
In August 2017, the Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi announced the ministry has disbanded more than 100 terrorist groups across Iran. The agency has had a reputation of human rights violation. “Security and intelligence forces summoned, harassed, and arrested dozens of journalists, prominent trade unionists, and social media activists,” Human Rights Watch reported in 2018.
These operations are often done in conjunction with Al-Quds forces. Al-Quds is a Special Forces unit in the Revolutionary guard who conduct special intelligence operations outside of Iran. They have also worked with MOIS on offensive cyber-intelligence measures.
Iran ramped up their cyber intelligence capabilities after the StuxNet virus, planted by U.S. and Israeli agents, targeted their uranium-enrichment infrastructure. Their cyberwar efforts have been aimed mainly at the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia.
- MOIS Web site (in Farsi)
- Iran’s Foreign Defense and Foreign Policy (Congressional Research Service)
- Iran 2018 (Human Rights Watch)
- Comments/Corrections/Suggestions About Iran
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