United States Institute of Peace

The Iran Primer

Congress Report: Iran Intelligence Expanding

           Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security has recently expanded its operations in the Middle East and beyond, most notably in Latin America and Europe, according to a new report by the Library of Congress. A profile of the ministry, which is shrouded in secrecy, claims that hard-liners are in charge of the ministry, but that the organization includes a mixture of political ideologies. The following is the executive summary followed by a link to the full text.  

·    The Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) uses all means at its disposal to protect the Islamic Revolution of Iran, utilizing such methods as infiltrating internal opposition groups, monitoring domestic threats and expatriate dissent, arresting alleged spies and dissidents, exposing conspiracies deemed threatening, and maintaining liaison with other foreign intelligence agencies as well as with organizations that protect the Islamic Republic’s interests around the world.
 
·    Although Islamist hard-liners in Iran are in charge of the ministry under the guidance of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the organization encompasses a mixture of political ideologies.
 
·    Every minister of intelligence must hold a degree in ijtihad (the ability to interpret Islamic sources such as the Quran and the words of the Prophet and imams) from a religious school, abstain from membership in any political party or group, have a reputation for personal integrity, and possess a strong political and management background.
 
·    According to Iran’s constitution, all organizations must share information with the Ministry of Intelligence and Security. The ministry oversees all covert operations. It usually executes internal operations itself, but the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps for the most part handles extraterritorial operations such as sabotage, assassinations, and espionage. Although the Quds Force operates independently, it shares the information it collects with MOIS.
 
·    The Iranian government considers Mojahedin-e-Khalq to be the organization that most threatens the Islamic Republic of Iran. One of the main responsibilities of the Ministry of Intelligence and Security is to conduct covert operations against Mojahedin-e-Khalq and to identify and eliminate its members. Other Iranian dissidents also fall under the ministry’s jurisdiction.
 
·    The ministry has a Department of Disinformation, which is in charge of creating and waging psychological warfare against the enemies of the Islamic Republic.
 
·     Iran’s ability to collect covert information is limited; specifically, its signals intelligence capability represents only a limited threat because it is still under development.
 
·    Even though Iran has created a well-equipped counterintelligence system to protect its nuclear program, it appears that other countries’ operatives still succeed in infiltrating the system, as well as some other parts of Iran’s intelligence apparatus.
 
Click here for the full text.

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