Russia’s Federal Security Service is housed in this building in Moscow.
EVER wondered where spies go to work? These buildings hide the biggest network of intelligence agencies around the world. Some are nondescript, others are imposing and a few we couldn’t find photos of at all. You may recognise some from Bond movies, while others look more like the house next door. These are the world’s most powerful buildings as reported in Gizmodo plus a few of our own.
Government Communications Headquarters, UK
The Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) is one of the three main UK security and intelligence organisations. Responsible for identifying threats to national security, their work includes surveillance regarding cyber attacks, international and domestic terrorism, organised crime and the spread of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.
In 2004 GCHQ moved to new premises in the spa town of Cheltenham, in the southwest of England. Dubbed the “doughnut” because of its shape, an internal street links all areas of the building meaning that no one is more than a five-minute walk away.
The “doughnut” responsible for national security is unusually located in the spa town of Cheltenham. Credit: Ministry of Defence
Located in central London, the Security Service MI5 is the UK’s domestic counterintelligence and security agency. More than one hundred years old, it has played a hugely secret role in countering the activities of terrorists and spies.
In the heart of London sits the super secretive MI5.
The UK’s Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) is more commonly known as MI6 (Military Intelligence, Section 6), and is responsible for supplying the British Government with foreign intelligence.
Sitting on the Thames in London it is known by locals as “legoland” and “Babylon-on-Thames” it has also featured in Bond movies.
As the “secret front line” of Britain's’s national security, it gathers foreign intelligence from around the world that may affect the UK’s political and economic interests. Although more than a century old, its existence was not officially acknowledged until 1994 when it moved to its present location.
MI6 sits on the Thames in London.
Communications Security Establishment, Canada
The Communications Security Establishment (CSE) is the national cryptologic agency of Canada. Based in Ottawa, it is one of the key security and intelligence organisations, it is responsible for foreign signals intelligence (SIGINT) and protecting Canadian government electronic information and communication networks.
The new $1.2 billion facility is the country’s new headquarters. Picture:
Central Intelligence Agency, USA
Probably the world’s biggest intelligence agency and famous from many Hollywood blockbusters, the CIA is responsible for homeland security in the USA.
Based in Langley, Virginia, the CIA has three main roles — to gather information about foreign governments, corporations an individuals; to provide national security intelligence assessments to US policymakers; and to carry out covert activities upon the request of the President.
The new headquarters for the CIA looks surprisingly modest. Picture: Central Intelligence Agency
National Security Agency, USA
Unlike the CIA which is responsible for human source intelligence, the National Security Agencey (NSA) is the United States intelligence agency for information and data.
Known as Signals intelligence (SIGINT), the NSA monitors, collects, decodes and translates information.
In 2013 its powerful secret surveillance programs were made public by Edward Snowden who exposed documents revealing it intercepts communications of over a billion people worldwide and able to undertake cyber attacks on the internet.
Intercepting the communications of billions worldwide. Picture: nsa.gov
Australia’s Secret Intelligence Service
Australia’s Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS), collects and distributes secret intelligence about developments around the world, especially in the Asia-Pacific region, that may impact Australia’s interests and the security of its people.
For over twenty years, the existence of ASIS remained a secret, even from members of the Australian Government. The Service was first referred to in Parliament in 1975 and was not publicly acknowledged until 1977.
Australia’s secret service is based in Canberra. Picture: wiki/commons.
General Directorate for External Security, France
The General Directorate for External Security (DGSE) collects and processes security regarding France’s security.
Founded in 1982 it assists in military and strategic decisions and has a network of around 5000 agents spread across France and the rest of the world.
In typical French fashion its security building is in good taste. Picture: wiki/commons.
Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), is the Federal Intelligence Service of Germany that gathers both military and civil intelligence.
It places surveillance on international communications and collects information related to terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, organised crime and information warfare.
These unusually shaped radomes are operated out of one its facilities near Bad Aibling and contain radar antennas for surveillance.
Part of Germany’s intelligence gathering are these huge radomes.
Federal Security Service, Russia
The Federal Security Service (FSB) of Russia is the main successor to the well known KGB. Located in Lubyanka Square in Moscow, its main operations are domestic activities including counter intelligence, border security and surveillance.
The Russian Federal Security Service stands ominously in the background. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
And then there are the secret services that are so secret they don’t want you to know where they work.
Research and Analysis Wing, India
Founded in 1968, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) primary focus is foreign intelligence and counterterrorism. It advises Indian policymakers with its chief reporting directly to the Prime Minister. Thought to be one of the most fearsome intelligence agencies in the region.
Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan
The Inter-Services Intelligence is one of the most notorious secret service agencies in the world. Providing critical national security and intelligence assessment to the Government of Pakistan it is thought to wield huge power in the Pakistani government affairs. Founded in 1948, its main headquarters are found in Islamabad.
One of the most powerful secret service agencies in the world, the Mossad, meaning Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations, is the national intelligence agency of Israel.
It is responsible for intelligence collection, covert operations, and counterterrorism, as well as protecting the Jewish communities.
Ministry of State Security, China
The Ministry of State Security (MSS) is the Chinese Government’s intelligence arm, responsible for foreign intelligence and counter intelligence operations. Its main priority is to identify enemies, spies and counter revolutionary activities that threaten the Communist Party of China.