Top Intelligence Agencies in the world

For any country, National security is the most important matter. The national security of a country is ensured by the defence forces and intelligence agencies.

In many countries, intelligence agencies are divided into two categories- internal security intelligence and foreign intelligence. For example, in the case of USA, the FBI is the internal intelligence agency and CIA is the foreign intelligence that collects information related to foreign states’ political or economic activities. Similarly, in India, CBI is the internal intelligence agency while RAW is the foreign intelligence agency.

What is an intelligence agency?

An intelligence agency is a government-backed organisation that collects, analyses and provides the government information related to national security.

Functions of the Intelligence Agency

  • Gathering intelligence via various sources
  • Conducting different forms of espionage
  • Protect sensitive information, secrets, both of their sources and activities and those of other state agencies
  • Advise government on matters related to national security

List of Intelligence Agencies in the World


Intelligence Agency



Imp points


Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS)



It operated in secret for twenty years until 1972.


Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS)

Ottawa, Ontario


It is also Canada’s representative in the Five eyes, an intelligence alliance between the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.


MSS (Ministry of State Security)



The agency also handles internal threats like citizens revolting against the Communist Party.


General Intelligence Service (Mukhabarat)



The decision to form this intelligence service was taken following the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, when Egypt was under increased threat from foreign adversaries, such as the United Kingdom and Israel.


DGSE: Directorate-General for External Security - Direction generale de la securite exterieure



DGSE collaborates very closely with the country’s internal security agency with powers and national security.


Research & Analysis Wing (RAW), Intelligence Bureau (IB)

New Delhi


It was formed after the Sino-Indian war of 1962 and the India-Pakistani war of 1965.



Tel Aviv


It is one of the leading entities in the Israeli Intelligence Community, along with Aman (military intelligence) and Shin Bet (internal security).


Cabinet Intelligence and Research Office (CIRO)- Naicho

Nagatacho, Tokyo


In 1952, Research Office was formed and in 1957 it was placed under PM’s office and named Cabinet Research Office (CRO). Later in 1986, CRO was renamed as CIRO.


Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)

Aabpara, Islamabad


Its main objective is to investigate and analyze data on security issues for the Pakistani government.


Foreign intelligence service (SVR)- GRU is the military counterpart



Unlike the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), the SVR is tasked with intelligence and espionage activities outside the Russian Federation.


Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), commonly known as MI6 (Military Intelligence, Section 6)



It is the oldest intelligence agency globally.


Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)

Langley, Virginia


CIA is leading technology and power to the other intelligence services in the United States, including the National Security Agency, Defence Intelligence Agency and FBI.

About RAW

Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) is one of the premier foreign intelligence agencies in the world. It was formed in 1968 following the two consecutive wars in which India was involved- India-China war 1952 and India-Pakistan war 1965. Its motto is “Dharmo Raksati Raksitah” i.e. Dharma protects, when it is protected.

The primary function of the agency is to gather foreign intelligence, counter-terrorism, and counter-proliferation, advise Indian policymakers, and advance India’s foreign strategic interests. It is also involved in the security of India’s nuclear programme.

The head of RAW is designated as the Secretary (Research) in the Cabinet Secretariat and is under the authority of the Prime Minister. The first secretary of RAW was Rameshwar Nath Kao. RAW is headquartered in New Delhi. Its current chief is Ravi Sinha who replaced Samant Goel.

Prior to the formation of RAW, Intelligence Bureau (IB) was responsible for overseas intelligence collection.

The Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), under the Cabinet Secretariat, is responsible for coordinating and analysing intelligence activities between RAW, the Intelligence Bureau and the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA).

Intelligence Bureau (IB) is India's internal security and counter-intelligence agency under Ministry of Home Affairs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Intelligence Agencies in World

Which is the external intelligence agency of India?

Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) is the external intelligence agency of India.

As of August 2023, who is the current chief of RAW?

As of August 2023, Ravi Sinha is the current chief of RAW.

Which is the foreign intelligence agency of USA?

CIA is the foreign intelligence agency of USA.

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