The National Informative Service (Albanian: Shërbimi Informativ Kombëtar, SHIK) was created by the Albanian parliament in 1991. The agency has been used to manage internal dissent and protect the interests of the individual members of the regime.
On April 1, 1997, Bashkim Fino prime minister of Albania announced that SHIK activity would be suspended effectively from March 31. SHIK Director Bashkim Gazidede and his deputy, Bujar Rama, resigned from duty. On May 30, the president named Arben Karkini as the new head of SHIK. He was succeeded by Fatos Klosi after the Socialist Party of Albania won the July 1997 parliamentary elections. In October 1997, the United States Central Intelligence Agency sent a team of experts to assist the government in restructuring the SHIK. In November 1999, SHIK was renamed SHISH. The current director is Visho Ajazi Lika.
Mission and function
SHISH responsibilities include acquiring foreign intelligence and counterintelligence on issues relevant to national security. The agency is responsible for the comprehensive collection, processing and analysis of intelligence, and for the dissemination and utilization of intelligence products. Its responsibilities also extend to issues related to constitutional order and specifically encompass a role in fighting organized crime, illegal trafficking, and terrorism.
The State Intelligence Service has the following duties:
- collect information from abroad for the purpose of national security;
- undertake intelligence activities for the purpose of the protection of integrity, independence and constitutional order;
- collect information regarding terrorist activity, the production and trafficking of narcotics, the production of weapons of mass destruction and crimes against the environment;
- collect information regarding organized crime that endangers national security.
SHISH personnel are well trained and are assigned to five branches:
- Technical Operations branch,
- Foreign Intelligence branch,
- Counter-Espionage branch,
- Counter-Organized Crime branch,
- Counter-Terrorism branch.
Relationship with other state entities
Institutional position of the State Intelligence Service and relationship with other state bodies:
The State Intelligence Service falls under the authority of the Prime Minister. Its Head is appointed and dismissed by the President of the Republic on the advice of the Prime Minister.
SHISH operates within this context and while it has been identified as being “generally under effective civilian control” (U.S. Department of State, 2004) the agency has still been associated with various abuses within the country and continues to play a significant role in domestic politics. The Albanian government has received support from the U.S. and European countries in working to establish or reform national institutions, including its intelligence and security services.