Directorate of State Security
The Directorate of State Security, or Sigurimi, which was abolished
in July 1991 and replaced by the NIS, celebrated March 20, 1943,
as its founding day. Hoxha typically credited the Sigurimi as
having been instrumental in his faction's gaining power in Albania
over other partisan groups. The People's Defense Division, formed
in 1945 from Hoxha's most reliable resistance fighters, was the
precursor to the Sigurimi's 5,000 uniformed internal security
force. In 1989 the division was organized into five regiments
of mechanized infantry that could be ordered to quell domestic
disturbances posing a threat to the party leadership. The Sigurimi
had an estimated 10,000 officers, approximately 2,500 of whom
were assigned to the People's Army. It was organized with both
a national headquarters and district headquarters in each of Albania's
The mission of the Sigurimi and presumably its successor was
to prevent revolution and to suppress opposition to the regime.
Although groups of Albanian émigrés sought Western support for
their efforts to overthrow the communists in the late 1940s and
early 1950s, they quickly ceased to be a credible threat to the
communist regime because of the effectiveness of the Sigurimi.
The activities of the Sigurimi were directed more toward political
and ideological opposition than crimes against persons or property,
unless the latter were sufficiently serious and widespread to
threaten the regime. Its activities permeated Albanian society
to the extent that every third citizen had either served time
in labor camps or been interrogated by Sigurimi officers. Sigurimi
personnel were generally career volunteers, recommended by loyal
party members and subjected to careful political and psychological
screening before they were selected to join the service. They
had an elite status and enjoyed many privileges designed to maintain
their reliability and dedication to the party.
The Sigurimi was organized into sections covering political control,
censorship, public records, prison camps, internal security troops,
physical security, counterespionage, and foreign intelligence.
The political control section's primary function was monitoring
the ideological correctness of party members and other citizens.
It was responsible for purging the party, government, military,
and its own apparatus of individuals closely associated with Yugoslavia,
the Soviet Union, or China after Albania broke from successive
alliances with each of those counties. One estimate indicated
that at least 170 communist party Politburo or Central Committee
members were executed as a result of the Sigurimi's investigations.
The political control section was also involved in an extensive
program of monitoring private telephone conversations. The censorship
section operated within the press, radio, newspapers, and other
communications media as well as within cultural societies, schools,
and other organizations. The public records section administered
government documents and statistics, primarily social and economic
statistics that were handled as state secrets. The prison camps
section was charged with the political reeducation of inmates
and the evaluation of the degree to which they posed a danger
to society. Local police supplied guards for fourteen prison camps
throughout the country. The physical security section provided
guards for important party and government officials and installations.
The counterespionage section was responsible for neutralizing
foreign intelligence operations in Albania as well as domestic
movements and parties opposed to the party. Finally, the foreign
intelligence section maintained personnel abroad and at home to
obtain intelligence about foreign capabilities and intentions
that affected Albania's national security. Its officers occupied
cover positions in Albania's foreign diplomatic missions, trade
offices, and cultural centers.
In early 1992, information on the organization, responsibilities,
and functions of the NIS was not available in Western publications.
Some Western observers believed, however, that many of the officers
and leaders of the NIS had served in the Sigurimi and that the
basic structures of the two organizations were similar.
Data as of April 1992