Département du Renseignement et de la Sécurité
Département du Renseignement et de la Sécurité (DRS) (Arabic: إدارة الاستخبارات والأمن) (English: Department of Intelligence and Security) is the Algerian state intelligence service. Its existence dates back to the struggle for independence.
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The DRS was formed during the Algerian War for independence, under the direction by Abdelhafid Boussouf, whose role was to lead both the national and international networks of the Front de libération nationale (FLN). After independence in 1962, and particularly with the accession of Houari Boumédiène to the leadership of the country in 1965, the Algerian intelligence services greatly professionalised and institutionalised.
This change of internal organization was modeled to a large extent on the intelligence and internal security services of the then Eastern bloc Nations. Renamed Sécurité Militaire (SM) its directives were:
The first appointed Chairman of Military Security was the colonel Kasdi Merbah who stayed until the death of president Boumédiène in 1978. Then he was succeeded for a short time by colonel Yazid Zerhouni. President Chadli Bendjedid, who mistrusted the SM, dismantled it and renamed it the DGPS. Chadli appointed to the chair of the DGPS general Lakehal Ayat, reorganising the agency to work solely in foreign intelligence.
The events of October 1988 caused president Chadli Bendjedid to dismiss General Ayat, who was succeeded by General Betchine. His tenure saw major political change, beginning with the advent of a multi-party political system and the rise of the Islamist movement of the FIS. It was in this period that the DGPS reasserted its role in internal security, becoming an active player in the Algerian Civil War of the 1990s.
The Services changed its name once again, from DGPS to DRS, with the appointment of its current head in November 1990, General Mohamed Mediène. Outside observers have charged that Mediène was one of the junta of generals who forced the cancellation the 1991 elections which the Islamists were set to win, plunging the nation into a war against the Islamist, and greatly increasing the power of the military—and the DRS—in Algeria's government.
GIS (Groupe d'Intervention Spécial) is a special force (300 members) under the direction of the DRS.
Chairmen of the DRS
- Abdelhafid Boussouf from 1954 à 1958
- Houari Boumédiène from 1958 to 1965
- Kasdi Merbah from 1965 to 1978
- Yazid Zerhouni from 1979-1981
- Lakehal Ayat from 1981 to 1988
- Mohamed Betchine from 1988 to 1990
- Mohamed Mediène from 1990 until today
Allegations of torture
Amnesty International has repeatedly claimed that the DRS engages in unlawful arrest, detention and torture.
"officials of the Departement du Renseignement et de la Securite (DRS), Department of Information and Security, also known as Military Security, continue to torture uncharged detainees held in their custody. ...The DRS runs its own detention centres where detainees are held incommunicado and subject to torture. ...DRS officials continue to be allowed to commit torture with impunity. Algeria's civil authorities, in practice, have no control over their activities and judicial authorities routinely fail to investigate allegations of abuse by the DRS or to inspect their detention prisons, although they are legally required to do so."
Infiltration of terrorist groups
Mali's head of state security alleges that "at the heart of AQIM (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb) is the DRS." John R. Schindler of the U.S. Naval War College has described the DRS's infiltration of terrorist groups as "sinister," alleging that terrorist operations were directly controlled by DRS agents. The DRS was also purportedly involved in the creation of the Armed Islamic Group of Algeria, which Schindler claims has a leadership thoroughly infiltrated by DRS agents.
- Evans and Phillips (2008), passim
- Jeanne Kervyn and François Gèze. L’organisation des forces de répression. Comité Justice pour l'Algérie, Dossier n° 16. September 2004.
- Omar Ashour. Islamist De-Radicalization in Algeria: Successes and Failures. The Middle East Institute Policy Brief No.21. November 2008 (p.11, n.68)
- United Kingdom: Deportation of terror suspects. Amnesty International Canada. EUR 45/046/2005. 20 October 2005
- Algerians count cost of burying the past. Financial Times. July 4, 2007.
- Algérie. Pratique persistante de la torture par la Sécurité militaire dans des lieux tenus secrets. Amnesty International. 10 June 2007.
- Algeria: Unrestrained powers: Torture by Algeria's Military Security. Amnesty International. Index Number: MDE 28/004/2006. 9 July 2006.
- Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. Algeria: The anti-terrorism campaign conducted by the army between 1997 and 2000, including the army's strategy, 27 August 2007. DZA102593.E. Online. available at UNHCR Refworld, accessed 30 March 2009.
- Martin Evans, John Phillips. Algeria: Anger of the Dispossessed. Yale University Press (2008) ISBN 0-300-10881-8
- Hugh Roberts. Demilitarizing Algeria. Carnegie Papers Middle East Program, Number 86. May 2007.
- Yahia H. Zoubir, Haizam Amirah Fernández. North Africa: Politics, Region, and the Limits of Transformation. Routledge (2008) ISBN 0-415-42921-8 pp. 299–300