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Famil USA


National Directorate
of Security (NDS)

National Directorate of Security (NDS)

The National Directorate of Security (NDS) was the intelligence agency of the government of Afghanistan. It was formed up in the early 2000s under the watchful of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Funding, training and direction (in the early years) was provided by the CIA. The NDS was regarded as one of the least corrupt and most professional security organization in Afghanistan.

In addition to gathering and analyzing intelligence, the NDS also had paramilitary units to conduct tactical operations. It has also established local community defense units called 'local uprisings' and secretive units such as Sangorian.

In the post August-2021 era, once the Taliban established control of the Afghan government, members of the NDS were actively hunted by the Taliban and beaten, tortured, imprisoned, or 'disappeared'. The NDS was replaced by the Taliban's General Directorate of Intelligence (GDI). 1.

References about the NDS

National Directorate of Security - Wikipedia

Papers & Reports about the NDS


Mishra, Anant, "Strengthening Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security: Is it equipped to counter emerging threats?", Small Wars Journal. The author argues that the flow of intelligence among the security agencies of Afghanistan is hampered by a lack of communication, cooperattion, and coordination.


Ruttig, Thomas. Political Cleavages over Pakistan: The NDS chief's farewell, Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN), December 23, 2015. Ruttig examines the background in the resignation of former NDS Chief Rahmatullah Nabil in the context of intelligence failures and President Ghani's attempted reconciliation with Pakistan and pursuit of peace talks with the Taliban.

News Reports about the NDS

April 13, 2023, "They helped the CIA in Afghanistan. Now They're suffering in America", by Antonio Olivo, The Washington Post. Article describes the plight of Afghan members of the 'Zero Units' that were used by the Central Intelligence Agency during the 20-long U.S. involvement in the Afghan conflict. Many are having trouble seeking legal status in the United States and reestablishing their lives. Some are being assisted by Famil USA, a volunteer organization with several former CIA officers on the board of directors.

November 21, 2022, "CIA, Spec Ops roles in Kabul's collapse belie official versions", by C. Tatum, SpyTalk. The paramilitary units of the National Directorate of Security - the Zero units - were instrumental in providing security for the Kabul international airport during the non-combatant evacuation operation (NEO) of August 2021. The CIA facilitated the movement of the Zero units through Taliban-held territory to the international airport in Kabul. Once at the airport the Zero units assisted in clearing the airport of the thousands of Afghans who were on or adjacent to the runway, established perimeter security, and provided security at some of the airport entry gates. In return, the NDS personnel and their families were evacuated on U.S. military and other aircraft to 'lily pads' in the Middle East.

November 20, 2022, "Ground Zero", by Fahim Abed, The Intercept. This article explores the sequence of events prior to and during the Kabul non-combatant evacuation operation when the CIA assisted in the evacucation of many of the personnel from the NDS paramilitary units from Afghanistan in August 2021.

May 15, 2016. "Intel Unit Aims to Exploit Taliban Divisions", Gandhara Blog. The National Directorate of Security has established a 300 plus covert unit to disrupt insurgent operations in Helmand province.

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1. For more on the GDI, read "Afghanistan's intelligence agency emerges as new threat to indedpendent media", by Waliullah Rahmani and Steven Butler, Committee to Protect Journalists, March 2, 2022.


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