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National Intelligence and Security Service

Several government entities have responsibility for internal security, including the Ministry of Interior, which oversees the police agencies; the Ministry of Defense; and National Intelligence and Security Service [NISS]. NISS is responsible for internal security and most intelligence matters. It functions independently of any ministry. Constitutional amendments passed in 2015 expanded NISS’s mandate to include authorities traditionally reserved for the military and judiciary. Under the amendments NISS may establish courts and is allowed greater latitude than other security services in making arrests.

In February 2018 President Bashir appointed Salah Abdallah Mohamed Saleh, known as Salah “Gosh,” as the head of NISS. His first major act was to release about 80 political detainees arrested for supporting protests against the deteriorating economic situation, following a directive from President Bashir.

During the 1990’s Gosh was appointed as the NISS deputy director of operations and was one of the main intelligence coordinators with the Arab Afghans who moved to Sudan in the post-Soviet conflict period, including Osama bin Laden, In 2012 Gosh was arrested and accused of being involved in a plot to overthrow the regime in Sudan, After he was cleared of the charges and released he was appointed again by al-Bashir as Director of National Intelligence and Security Service in 2018.

The Head of the Transitional Military Council (TMC), General, Abdul Fatah Al-Burhan Abdul Rahman accepted the resignation of the Director of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), General, Salah Abdulla Mohammad Saleh. General Abdulla presented his resignation Friday, 12 April 2019. Member of the Transitional Military Council, Lt. Gen. Shams-Eddin Kabashi Ibrahim, announced 14 April 2019 that the Transitional Military Council had accepted the resignation of Salah Aballa from the position of the Chairman of the Security and Intelligence Service, and issued a decree appointing Lt. Gen. Abu-Bakr Mustafa as the Chairman of the Security and Intelligence Service.

Amnesty International has called on the Transitional Military Council (TMC) to investigate the role of former chief of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), Salah Gosh in the killing of demonstrators during the months of the recent protests that led to the ouster of President Omar al-Bashir. “Information should also be investigated on the allegations of torture, arbitrary arrests and other human rights violations under the supervision of Gosh,” the Amnesty International said in a statement. Salah Gosh resign from his post on Saturday two days after Bashir toppled, on charges that he spearheaded the deadly crackdown against protesters in recent months.

NISS is responsible for internal security and most intelligence matters. It functions independently of any ministry. Constitutional amendments passed in 2015 expanded NISS’s mandate to include authorities traditionally reserved for the military and judiciary. Under the amendments NISS may establish courts and is allowed greater latitude than other security services in making arrests.

The government's control over the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) reduces the likelihood of a civil uprising that removes the government. The NISS has penetrated the ranks of opposition parties and the threat posed by relaxing legal restrictions on the use of lethal force significantly undermines the opposition's ability to stage public meetings, protests or criticise the government through the heavily state-controlled media.

The law provides NISS officials with legal protection from criminal or civil suits for acts committed in their official capacity; the government reported NISS maintained an internal court system to address internal discipline and investigate and prosecute violations of the National Security Act, including abuse of power. Penalties included up to 10 years in prison, a fine, or both for NISS officers found in violation of the act. During the year 2018 the government provided more information about how many cases it had closed. A key national dialogue recommendation was to rescind unilateral additions to the constitution that exempt NISS from the national judicial system. Despite promises to implement all national dialogue recommendations, the government did not include NISS reforms as part of the national dialogue package of laws it presented to the National Assembly.

There are reports of disappearances by or on behalf of government authorities, including disappearances in both nonconflict and conflict areas. Security forces detained political opponents incommunicado and without charge. NISS held some political detainees in isolation cells in regular prisons, and many were held without access to family or medical treatment and reportedly suffered physical abuse. Human rights activists asserted NISS ran “ghost houses” where it detained opposition and human rights figures without acknowledging they were being held. Such detentions were prolonged at times. According to the government, NISS maintained public information offices to address inquiries about missing or detained family members. Families of missing or detained persons reported such inquiries often went unanswered.

Persons who oppose the government are subject to reprisals and various abuses, including harassment, forced disappearance, arbitrary arrest and detention (which may vary from a few days to months and years), and ill-treatment by agents of the state, principally the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS). The government’s reaction to a perceived threat varies and may depend, in part, on the prevailing political climate as well as the person’s profile and activities. Periods of high tension, such as the build-up to national elections, are likely to lead to an increase in harassment, arrest and detention of opposition activists.

It is clear that the Sudanese authorities placed reliance upon information-gathering about the activities of members of the diaspora which includes covert surveillance. The nature and extent of the claimant's activities, when and where, will inform the decision maker when he comes to decide whether it is likely those activities will attract the attention of the authorities, bearing in mind the likelihood that the authorities will have to distinguish among a potentially large group of individuals between those who merit being targeted and those that do not.

The political opposition has a negligible presence in parliament and limited influence over government decision-making. Furthermore, the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) had penetrated the ranks of opposition political parties. The NISS also exercises punitive legal powers that undermine the opposition's ability to stage public meetings or protests, or criticise the government through the heavily state-controlled media.

The government employs a concerted and systematic strategy to manipulate online conversations through its so-called Cyber Jihadist Unit. Established in 2011 in the wake of the Arab Spring, the unit falls under the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) and works to proactively monitor content posted on blogs, social media websites, and online news forums. The unit also infiltrates online discussions in an effort to ascertain information about cyber-dissidents and is believed to orchestrate technical attacks against independent websites, especially during political events.

The activities of civil society organizations and political opposition parties were extensively restricted. The National Intelligence Security Service (NISS) prevented many civil society organizations and opposition parties from holding events. For example, on 17 February 2017 it banned a meeting of the Teachers Central Committee at the Umma National Party offices in Omdurman city. It prohibited the Umma National Party from holding a public meeting in Wad Madani in Al Jazeera State on 18 March. In April, it prevented the committee for the Sudanese Dramatists from holding a public event to address the impact on Sudanese society of an absence of dramatic arts. Also in April, it stopped the opposition Sudan Congress Party holding a memorial service for one of its members; and an event organized by the “No to women’s oppression” initiative at Al-Ahfad University without providing a reason. In May, the NISS cancelled a symposium on Sufism entitled “Current and Future Prospects” at the Friendship Hall in the capital, Khartoum. In June, the Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) suspended the activities ofShari Al-Hawadith, an organization providing medical support in Kassala State.

Harassment of the media intensified at the start of 2018. Eighteen journalists, including the correspondents of foreign media, were arrested in January while covering opposition protests. Sudan’s regime was exceptionally hostile to press freedom and often resorts to harassment, censorship, seizures, closures, and Internet cuts. The National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) uses the most brutal methods to gag the media and silence dissent, shutting down independent and opposition newspapers such as Al-Tayar, Al-Jareeda, Al-Midan and Al-Watan, or confiscating entire issues as they come off the press. Press censorship by government security agents continued unabated during 2018. The National Intelligence and Security Service continued to intimidate and instil fear of arrest in journalists, which consequently impeded press freedom, freedom of opinion and freedom of expression.

It does not take much for the NISS to create a file on an opponent but this does not necessarily mean that the file will be used later on. However, little more than suspicion is sometimes enough to detain someone. Not all political opponents suffer persecution and that for this to happen, their level of political engagement has to be fairly high.

Civil society activists in Khartoum, former detainees, and NGOs all reported that government security forces (including police, NISS, SAF Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) personnel, and the RSF) tortured persons in detention, including members of the political opposition, civil society, and journalists. Reported forms of torture and other mistreatment included prolonged isolation, exposure to extreme temperature variations, electric shock, and the use of stress positions. Human rights groups alleged that NISS regularly harassed and sexually assaulted many of its female detainees.

Government authorities did not investigate human rights violations by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), the military, or any other branch of the security services, with limited exceptions relating to the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF). Impunity remained a problem in all branches of the security forces and government institutions.

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