THE ALBANIAN STATE INTELLIGENCE SERVICE
The creation of the Albanian Secret Intelligence Service by the Government of Vlora in 1912
With the beginning of the Second Balkan War, the foreign armies of the Balkan Alliance had invaded most of the country’s territory. The newly formed government was facing enormous challenges related to the social and political circumstances of the time, such as the fall of the Ottoman Empire, Balkan War, definition of the borders of the new Albanian state, etc. Under those historical circumstances and in the interest of preserving and protecting the borders of the new Albanian state, the government decided to establish The National Army and The Secret Service. The newly formed government and the Prime Minister Ismail Qemali recognized the importance of establishing a secret intelligence structure, vital for the survival of the new state in those critical times. The objective was to gather information on the political, military, moral and economic situation in the occupied territories, to take accurate decisions and guide the internal and foreign policies. The Albanian state started to conduct special intelligence activities, right in the first days following the Declaration of Independence, on 28 November 1912. On 17 December 1912, the Albanian government, under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister Ismail Qemali, mandated “The establishment of a secret service in the occupied territories of Albania”. The achievement of this mission was entrusted to Lef Nosi and Bajram Curri.
The government assigned to the newly established service the task to collect information with special focus in the occupied territories. The purpose of intelligence collection operation was to create a full picture of the situation in the ground, military operations of the invading armies, organization and mobilization of the local population for the liberation of the occupied areas and the establishment of the state authority all over the territory. The Albanian Secret Service continued to carry on its intelligence activities, also during and after the the First World War, under the short reign of Prince Wied.
Consolidation of the Albanian Secret Service under the Government of Ahmet Zogu
On 21 January 1920, the National Congress of Lushnja constituted the High Council, sanctioned the division of powers into Legislative, Executive and Judiciary and established the Ministry of Interior. On 24 December 1921, Ahmet Zogu was appointed Minister of Interior. He reorganized the Ministry of Interior and established the Secret Section. Haki Stermilli was appointed the Head of the Secret Section.
The Albanian Intelligence structures took a more important institutional role during this period and were called “The Secret Office”. At the central level, the activities were run by the Secret Office whereas at the local level by the Prefecture, who had established a special structure for “restricted/confidential issues”.
With further consolidation of the Albanian state Institutions, special importance was given to the establishment of the Foreign Intelligence Service, located at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Foreign Intelligence Service organized its work under the cover of the diplomatic missions abroad, by creating a network of human intelligence sources that operated according to the mechanism: consular office, diplomatic mission and prefecture.
During this period, various political clans and forces, driven by certain political objectives and agendas, some with foreign support provoked internal unrest, organized plots, murders, armed insurgencies etc. aiming to destabilize the country and undermine national security.
State Security Organs 1944–1991
Right after the Second World War, during1944-1945, the Albanian State paid special care to the establishment of the Organs of State Security (Sigurimi). These were the following organs of the Military Intelligence Service, a structure set up during the National Liberation War. Initially, in 1945, the Directorate for the Protection of the People was established, a unit composed of the secret service, police and border protection forces, all incorporated in the Ministry of Defense. In 1946, the Directorate of State Security was established. With the restructuring of 1966, the State Security was reorganized in three main directorates: The First Directorate of Counterintelligence with its units in the headquarters and in the field stations, covering and operating all over the territory of the country. The Second Directorate, known as the directorate for the Protection of the Leadership, whose mission was the physical protection and overall security measures for the protection of the entire leadershipof the country,at the state and local level. The Third Directorate, known also as the “political foreign intelligence”. Its main mission was to collect intelligence abroad.
All the above mentioned units were centralized and dependent to the Vice Minister of Internal Affairs. The State Security was part of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Albania. State Security Organs performed their activities based on the Politburo Platform, not regulated by law. Priorities, objectives, goals and fields of activity were decided by the communist leadership of the country. This period resulted in serious violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, violation of the laws and the politicization of the intelligence structures.
Reform of the Albanian State Intelligence Services from 1991 and onwards
After 1990, with the establishment of the democratic system in our country, the State Security Organs (Sigurimi) were reformed, adapting to the new demands, new security environment, and in compliance with the rule of law. The goal was to reform the secret services, to establish a non-political and professional organization. Subsequently, in 1991, Law No.7495, date 02 July 1991, “On the organization of the National Intelligence Service” (hereinafter SHIK), was passed and SHIK was established. The mission and the legal tasks of the service were the identification, prevention and disruption of any anticonstitutional activity that violated freedom, independence, defense capacities, territorial integrity and national property of the Republic of Albania. SHIK was established as an independent organization, and as such has been subject of continuous organizational and structural reforms. In 1998, with Law no. 8391, date 28.10.1998, the Assembly of the Republic of Albania, decided: Article 1 National Intelligence Service (SHIK) is an intelligence service responsible for national security, which operates in compliance with the Constitution and the laws of the Republic of Albania. By virtue of this law, SHIK is transformed from an operational targeting and tracking/investigative service into an intelligence service with no executive powers. In 1999, upon the Decision nr. 61, date 22.11.1999, of the Constitutional Court of Albania, the National Intelligence Service (SHIK) changed its name into State Intelligence Service, (referred to in Albanian as SHISH). The ongoing reorganization and restructuring of the Albanian state intelligence services has been a continuous process since the 1990s, and is carried out in close cooperation with the strategic partner agencies, by integrating and implementing the best practices in the field of intelligence.
The Seal of State Intelligence Service
The Seal of SHISH was approved by the Order of the Prime Minister of Albania, No.171, date 03 August 2006, “For the Approval and Use of the Seal of the State Intelligence Service”. The Seal is designed in the medallion genre, in classical circular form, with basorelief and altorelief levels. It is composed of the double headed eagle, taken from the national flag and it symbolizes strength, wisdom and vision for the future. The golden ellipse, conceived as a formal abstraction in circular form, reflects the intelligence cycle of planning, directing, collecting, analyzing and disseminating the intelligence, in a professional way. The crystal at the center of the Seal symbolizes sharpness of thought and the final intelligence product. At the bottom is the inscription SHISH, supported by a laurel crown which symbolizes braveness and glory. Its internal elements have silver and gold color. The center of the Seal, which is at the same time the background of all its elements has a dark Parisian blue color.