Open main menu

National Security Service (Somalia)

The National Security Service (NSS) (Somali: Hay'ada Nabadsugida Qaranka, HNQ) was the primary intelligence agency of the Somali Democratic Republic from 1970 to 1990. The NSS was formed as under government of Siad Barre in 1970, modelled after the KGB of the Soviet Union, and was formally dissolved in 1990 shortly before Barre's overthrow. In 2013, the Federal Government of Somalia re-established the NSS as the national intelligence service, renaming it the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA).

National Security Service
Hay'ada Nabadsugida Qaranka (Somali)
Governmental overview
Superseding agency
TypeIntelligence agency
JurisdictionSupreme Revolutionary Council
Governmental executive
Parent departmentInterior Ministry of the Somali Democratic Republic

The NSS has been accused of secret police activities against Barre's opponents and also accused of participating in the Isaaq genocide.

Organization and structureEdit

The NSS was subordinate to the Interior Ministry, and (in the closing years of the Barré regime) was headed by Abdiqasim Salad Hassan (who would later be a one-time President of Somalia under the Transitional National Government.) Conceived in the Soviet model and organized with the help of the KGB, the NSS was an elite organization whose key officers maintained close links to Barré's Supreme Revolutionary Council.[1][2][3]

NSS prisonsEdit

The NSS headquarters and interrogation center in Mogadishu, referred to as Godka or "the Hole", was particularly notorious.[4] Other NSS centers included Mogadishu Central Prison, and stations at Lanta Bur, Labtanjirow and Burwein.

1990 dissolutionEdit

In 1990 the NSS was formally dissolved as a palliative measure.[5] However, its abolition was not accompanied by the demise of other security agencies who also had effectively unlimited powers of arrest and detention and similarly notorious reputations for torture and ill-treatment of detainees. These include the President's own bodyguards, the Red Berets (Duub Cas); the Dhabar Jabinta (or "Backbreakers") a branch of the military police; the Hangash, another branch of the military police; the Guulwadayal (or "Victory Pioneers"), a uniformed paramilitary group; and the investigative wing of the Somali Revolutionary Socialist Party (SRSP).

Similarly, the decision to dismantle the NSC did not guarantee a fair system of justice because other courts, such as the Mobile Military Court and the Regional Security Court, retained the power to sentence people to long prison terms and even death without any pretense of due process. In an effort to show that the government was opening the political system, President Barre resigned as Secretary General of the ruling party, only to be replaced by a son-in-law who for many years headed the NSS.

Politicians with ties to the NSSEdit

Controversy surrounds the activities of the NSS, as well as those politicians who served in or assisted the NSS during the Barre regime. This is a partial list of Somali politicians who had known or alleged ties to the NSS:

Foreign politiciansEdit

Former Ethiopian president Meles Zenawi and Eritrean president Isayas Afewerki were also alleged to have had with the NSS. IRIN news wrote, citing an unnamed former official of Somalia, that: "Meles knew Somalia very well, as he lived in Mogadishu when he was a liberation leader in the 1980s. Meles and Eritrean leader Isayas Afewerki “lived together in a villa behind Tawfiq Hotel, north Mogadishu, and were handled by the National Security Service, provided with travel documents and Somali passports, trained and given a Tigrayan radio frequency”, a former senior Somali government official told IRIN".[8]


In January 2013, the new Federal Government of Somalia established the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) in place of the defunct NSS. Mandated with assuring national security, NISA is headquartered in the capital Mogadishu.[9]


  1. ^ Federal Research Division, Library of Congress ; edited by Helen Chapin Metz. "Somalia : a country study". LCC DT401.5 .S68 1993.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ unknown (July 21, 1975). "The Russians on Africa's Horn". Time Magazine.
  3. ^ Comparative Criminology | Africa - Somalia Archived 2007-01-03 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "Somalia: National Security Service Prison (Godka), Mogadishu, Somalia". UNHCR. Archived from the original on 2006-10-22. Retrieved 2007-02-02.
  5. ^ "Somalia: Human Rights Developments". Human Rights Watch World Report 1990. Human Rights Watch. 1991. Retrieved 2007-02-03.
  6. ^ Rakiya A. Omaar (1990). "Government at War with Its Own People: Testimonies About the Killings and the Conflict in the North". Africa Watch.
  7. ^ "Southern regional authorities: the Rahanweyn Resistance Army (RRA) (2004)". Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC). 2004. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-02-04.
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Somalia Re-Opens its National Intelligence & Security Agency". Walta Info. 10 January 2013. Retrieved 1 September 2013.