National Directorate of Security
Pashto: د ملي امنیت لوی ریاست
Dari: ریاست عمومی امنیت ملی
National Directorate of Security Logo.png
Seal of the National Directorate of Security
Agency overview
Formed2002; 20 years ago (2002)
Preceding agency
Superseding agency
HeadquartersKabul, Afghanistan
EmployeesClassified, estimated to have 15,000 to 30,000 agents.[1]
Annual budgetClassified
Agency executives
WebsiteOfficial twitter

The National Directorate of Security (NDS; Pashto: د ملي امنیت لوی ریاست; Dari: ریاست عمومی امنیت ملی) was the national intelligence and security service of Afghanistan.[3] The headquarters of the NDS was in Kabul, and it had field offices and training facilities in all 34 provinces of Afghanistan.[citation needed] The NDS was part of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).[4][5]

The NDS was mandated to investigate cases and incidents that affect Afghan national security and to fight terrorism.[6] According to the Law on Crimes against Internal and External Security of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, the agency is tasked to investigate cases involving "national treason, espionage, terrorism, sabotage, propaganda against the Government, war propaganda, assisting enemy forces, and organised activity against internal and external security".[7]

As the primary intelligence organ of Afghanistan, the NDS shared information about regional terrorism and major crimes with the Afghan ministries and provincial governors.[8] Its activities were regulated according to the National Security Law.[6]


This article is missing information about Can use an expansion on NDS' operational success and the Taliban (maybe IS-K) targeting the agency. Please expand the article to include this information. Further details may exist on the talk page. (July 2021)

The National Directorate of Security was founded as the primary domestic and foreign intelligence agency of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in 2002, and is considered the successor to KHAD,[8] which was the previous intelligence organization before the Afghan Civil War (1992–2001). The CIA was responsible for assisting the Afghan government to establish the NDS.[9]

On January 16, 2013, the Taliban targeted the NDS compound in Kabul in a suicide bombing, followed by small arms fire.[10] In 2016, the NDS compound in Kabul was targeted in a bombing attack at the city's Puli Mahmood Khan neighborhood.[11] The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.[11]

On February 18, 2018, the NDS suffered a rare attack from Taliban sympathizers when four double agents attacked a NDS facility in Gerishk District.[12]

After the fall of Kabul to Taliban fighters, many NDS agents and other personnel chose to leave and head to India, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan in order to hide.[13] The NDS' 01 unit reportedly made a deal with the United States to assist with security at Hamid Karzai International Airport in exchange for being airlifted out of Afghanistan.[14]

As of August 20, 2021, the NDS' last director Ahmad Saraj is reportedly hiding from the Taliban in London.[15]

On October 26, 2021, the Taliban announced the establishment of the General Directorate of Intelligence (GDI).[16] This replaced the NDS.[17]


On July 9, 2011, an off-duty NDS agent in Panjshir opened fire and shot a contractor and a NATO soldier.[18]


The NDS was part of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and reported directly to the Office of the President.[5][4][19]

NDS-related facilities were found all over Afghanistan, including in Herat, Kabul, Kandahar, Khost and Laghman.[20]

The agency was divided into departments and units that were known by numbers.[9]

SF Area of Responsibility

NDS Unit[23] Area of Responsibility[23]
NDS 01 Central region (Kabul, Parwan, Wardak, Logar)
NDS 02 Eastern region (Nangahar)
NDS 03 Southern region (Kandahar)
NDS 04 Northeast (Nuristan, Kunar)


Armed NDS commandos during a mission at the  village of Abu Zai in Laghman province, 2013.
Armed NDS commandos during a mission at the village of Abu Zai in Laghman province, 2013.

After the ouster of the Taliban in 2002, the NDS warned ISI about exiled militant commanders and al-Qaeda operatives hiding in Pakistan. In early 2006, intelligence gathered from NDS detainees suggested Osama bin Laden resided in the western Pakistan town of Mansehra. A classified NDS paper completed in May, titled "Strategy of the Taliban," claimed ISI and Saudi Arabia restarted active support for the Taliban in 2005. Pakistan's military leadership sought to weaken and delegitimize Hamid Karzai's government, in order to prevent an alliance between Afghanistan and India.[24]

In 2007, Amrullah Saleh's NDS used arrests and interrogations to discover the majority of suicide bombings in Afghanistan originated among Pashtuns from Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas.[25]

During the April 2014 Afghan Presidential Election, the NDS, under Rahmatullah Nabil, collected thousands of signals intelligence indicating Ashraf Ghani's allies organized massive electoral fraud.[26]

The NDS has had a degree of success, including capturing Maulvi Faizullah,[27] a notable Taliban leader, and foiling an assassination attempt against Abdul Rashid Dostum in 2014.[28]

The NDS captured Aslam Farooqi, the chief of ISIS-K, on April 4, 2020.[29] On December 4, 2020, the NDS busted a 10-man cell consisting of Chinese nationals linked to the Ministry of State Security, who were subsequently arrested for trying to build up connections to the Haqqani Network.[30] India's Research and Analysis Wing had provided tips to the NDS, which led to the arrest.[31]

Directors and deputy heads


In 2015, the NDS was criticized for allowing its special forces personnel to act as bodyguards for some Afghan politicians, but NDS officials justified their role as a security precaution.[33]

In 2018, the agency was criticized for deploying inexperienced officers tasked to collect intelligence related to national security matters.[34] This was a product of massive failures to cooperate with the other parts of the government.[35]

It has been accused in the past of conducting human rights violations towards detainees, including young children.[36]

During the airlift operations in Kabul after the capital was captured by the Taliban, NDS 01 operators were accused of harassing Afghans of Hazara origin.[14]


  1. ^ It's sometimes known as Number 241.


  1. ^ European Asylum Support Office (August 2020). Afghanistan - State Structure and Security Forces - Country of Origin Information Report. p. 36. ISBN 9789294856500. Retrieved 29 August 2021.((cite book)): CS1 maint: ref duplicates default (link)
  2. ^ a b Says, Khan Saheb (9 September 2019). "New acting chief introduced for the intelligence directorate of Afghanistan". The Khaama Press News Agency. Khaama Press. Retrieved 2020-09-05.
  3. ^ "Afghanistan". INTERPOL. Retrieved 29 August 2021.
  4. ^ a b "Developing Afghan security forces". North Atlantic Treaty Organization. 3 December 2012. Archived from the original on 5 March 2013.
  5. ^ a b "Afghanistan (2017)". The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. 24 April 2018. Archived from the original on 29 April 2018.
  6. ^ a b UNAMA&OHCHR 2011, p. 14.
  7. ^ United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan; UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (October 2011). Treatment of Conflict-Related Detainees in Afghan Custody (PDF). United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (Report). Kabul. pp. 14–15. Retrieved 2021-07-26.
  8. ^ a b c BBC (14 August 2011). "Afghanistan's dysfunctional security agencies". BBC News. British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2015-07-30.
  9. ^ a b European Asylum Support Office 2020, p. 36.
  10. ^ "Afghanistan's NDS spy agency HQ hit by deadly Taliban suicide, gun attack". CBS News. 16 January 2013. Retrieved 29 August 2021.
  11. ^ a b "Taliban claims responsibility for deadly blast in central Kabul". FRANCE 24. 19 April 2016. Retrieved 29 August 2021.
  12. ^ Gul, Ayaz (11 February 2018). "Rare Insider Attack Kills 16 Afghan Intelligence Operatives in Helmand". VOA News. Retrieved 29 August 2021.
  13. ^ Dutta, Sharangee (17 August 2021). Roy, Avik (ed.). "Taliban were 'catching and killing us': Afghan intel officer who fled to Delhi on last flight from Kabul". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 29 August 2021.
  14. ^ a b Hassan, Sharif; Huylebroek, Jim (20 August 2021). "Amid Desperation at Kabul Airport, Evacuation Picks Up Pace - In the bedlam at Kabul's airport, having the right papers does not mean getting in". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 August 2021.
  15. ^ "Head of Afghanistan's National Security Has Reportedly Taken Refuge in London". 20 August 2021.
  16. ^ "Taliban's Spy Agency: The General Directorate of Intelligence (GDI)". 26 November 2021.
  17. ^ "Afghan provincial intelligence chief killed in road accident". 7 January 2022.
  18. ^ Qaim, Ahmad (9 July 2011). "Afghan agent kills NATO soldier and civilian in Panjshir". Reuters. Retrieved 29 August 2021.
  19. ^ European Asylum Support Office 2020, pp. 35–36.
  20. ^ UNAMA&OHCHR 2011, p. 16.
  21. ^ Antonio, De Lauri (8 Jun 2020). "Armed governance: the case of the CIA-supported Afghan militia" (PDF). Small Wars & Insurgencies. 32 (3): 495. ISSN 1743-9558. Retrieved 29 August 2021.
  22. ^ "'Sangorians' take page from insurgent playbook in fight against Taliban". Bangkok Post. AFP. 18 June 2021. Retrieved 29 August 2021.
  23. ^ a b "CIA-backed strike force units in Afghanistan". Afghanistan Analysts Network. 9 Apr 2020. Retrieved 29 August 2021.
  24. ^ Coll, Steve (2018). Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America's Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan. New York: Penguin Press. pp. 214–217.
  25. ^ Coll, Steve (2018). Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America's Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan. New York: Penguin Press. pp. 260–265.
  26. ^ Coll, Steve (2018). Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America's Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan. New York: Penguin Press. pp. 649–651.
  27. ^ Ahmad, Shah Erfanyar (11 July 2015). "NDS claims Quetta Shura member held in Kabul". Pajhwok Afghan News. Archived from the original on 26 March 2016.
  28. ^ Donati, Jessica; Harooni, Mirwais (22 March 2015). Liffey, Kevin (ed.). "Afghan intelligence agency says it foiled attempt to kill vice-president". Reuters. Retrieved 29 August 2021.
  29. ^ Philip, Snehesh Alex (2020-04-10). "Islamabad's claim over Kabul gurdwara bomber 'reeks of Pakistani conspiracy to save him'". ThePrint. Retrieved 2020-04-10.
  30. ^ Gupta, Shishir (25 December 2020). "Apologise, Afghanistan tells China after busting its espionage cell in Kabul". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 29 August 2021.
  31. ^ Mehrdad, Ezzatullah (17 February 2021). "Did China Build a Spy Network in Kabul?". The Diplomat. Retrieved 29 August 2021.
  32. ^ Carlotta Gall, ed. (August 19, 2010). "New Afghan Intelligence Chief Aims to Build Trust". The New York Times. Retrieved May 20, 2012.
  33. ^ "Experts Criticize Use of NDS Special Forces As Guards for Elite". TOLOnews. 5 February 2015. Archived from the original on 2021-08-31. Retrieved 29 August 2021.
  34. ^ European Asylum Support Office 2020, pp. 36–37.
  35. ^ Mishra, Anant (3 January 2018). "Strengthening Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security: Is it Equipped to Counter 'Emerging' Threats?". Small Wars Journal. Retrieved 29 August 2021.
  36. ^ UNAMA&OHCHR 2011, pp. 2, 21, 32, 34.

Further reading