Internal Security in the 1980s
In addition to the regular armed forces, Iraq's state security
system consisted of at least six organizations charged with a
wide variety of security functions. Little was publicly known
about these paramilitary and police organizations, but their importance
was undisputed. In addition to the People's Army, discussed above,
internal security organizations consisted of the Security Troops
(or Presidential Guard), the Border Guard, the Frontier Force,
the regular civil police, and the Mukhabarat (or Department of
The Security Troops formed an elite group of 4,800 whose primary
task was to protect the Baath leadership in Iraq. Their ranks
were filled with the most loyal troops serving in the Iraqi armed
forces, whose dedication to Baathism and to Saddam Husayn personally
had been tested on numerous occasions. These troops faced considerable
danger because the frequent assassination attempts on the president
and on his close associates usually meant loss of life among bodyguards.
Survivors were generously rewarded, however.
The Frontier Guard and the Mobile Force accounted for an estimated
50,000 additional men within the security system. Unlike the People's
Army, these forces consisted of full-time, professional men-at-arms.
Frontier Guard personnel were stationed principally in northern
Iraq along the borders with Iran, Turkey, and Syria to guard against
smuggling and infiltrations. Before 1974 the Frontier Guard was
under the control of local Kurds, but, after the defeat of the
Kurdish revolt in 1975, it was administered by the central government.
The Mobile Force was a strike force used to support the regular
police in the event of major internal disorders. It was armed
with infantry weapons, with artillery, and with armored vehicles,
and it contained commando units trained to deal with guerrilla
The regular civil police handled state security in addition to
its routine duties of fighting crime, controlling traffic, and
the like. After 1982, many of these routine functions were taken
over by People's Army "volunteers" to free more able-bodied men
for duty on the war front. The regular police were under the Ministry
of Interior, and they were commanded by the director of police
in Baghdad. There were thought to be several specialized components
of the police, including forces assigned exclusively to traffic,
to narcotics investigation, and to railroad security. The police
operated at least two schools: the Police College for those with
secondary degrees and the Police Preparatory School for those
without secondary education. Police officers held military ranks
identical to those of the regular armed forces, and many were
called to serve in the war with Iran.
The Department of General Intelligence was the most notorious
and possibly the most important arm of the state security system.
It was created in 1973 after the failed coup attempt by Director
of Internal Security Nazim Kazzar. In 1982 the Department of General
Intelligence underwent a personnel shake-up. At that time, it
was headed by Saadun Shakir, who was an RCC member and, like Saddam
Husayn, a Tikriti, and who was assisted by Saddam Husayn's younger
half-brother, Barazan Husayn. Foreign observers believed that
the president was dissatisfied because the agency had not anticipated
the assassination attempt at Ad Dujayl. It was also believed that
several separate intelligence networks were incorporated within
the department, and that Iraqi intelligence agents operated both
at home and abroad in their mission to seek out and eliminate
opponents of the Baghdad regime.
Data as of May 1988