The General Security Directorate (Arabic: إدارة الأمن العام, Idarat al-Amn al-Amm) is the most important civil intelligence service of Syria and plays an important role in quelling internal dissent.
The internal security division is responsible for the internal surveillance of the population. The external security division is responsible for foreign intelligence work. And, the Palestinian division is responsible for monitoring the activities of Palestinian groups in Syria and Lebanon.
Hisham Bekhityar became the head of the General Security Directorate in 2001, replacing Ali Hammoud, who became the Minister of Interior. General Bakhtiar was close to Bashar al-Assad's deceased brother-in-law Assef Shawkat. In the late 20th century Maj. Gen Ali Houri was director of General Security Directorate. The service was in competition with Idarat al-Amn al-Siyasi in the late 20th century. Gen. Ghazi Kanaan possibly headed international security of the General Security Directorate in the late 20th century.
President Bashar Assad in June 2005 appointed General Ali Mamluk as commander of the General Security Directorate. Six years later in April 2011, the US government imposed sanctions on Ali Mamluk, saying he had been responsible for human rights abuses, including the use of violence against civilians. His agency had repressed internal dissent, monitored individual citizens, and had been involved in the Syrian government's actions in Deraa, where protesters were killed by Syrian security services. The next month, the EU also imposed sanctions on Ali Mamluk, saying he had been involved in efforts to suppress anti-government protesters. A Sunni, he is said to be on good terms with all of Syria's intelligence agencies - the heads of Air Force Intelligence and the Political Security Directorate were once his assistants. He is a part of Bashar al-Assad's inner circle.
Information branch: Zouheir Hamad ( - July 2010)
Zouheir Hamad (July 2010 - July 2012), the European Union sanctioned him for "the use of violence across Syria and for intimidation and torture of protesters during the Syrian Civil War".
Deputy director: General Nazih (past - July 2012), the European Union sanctioned him for "being responsible for the use of violence across Syria and intimidation and torture of protestors during the Syrian uprising".
Information branch: Ghassan Khalil (July 2010 - present), the European Union sanctioned him for "being involved in repression and violence against the civilian population in Syria during the Syrian uprising".