SECURITY SITUATION IN THE REPUBLIC OF ALBANIA

ACTIVITIES IN THE FIELD OF COUNTERINTELLIGENCE

Monitoring the activities and operations of non-friendly security and intelligence agencies is a major priority of SHISH. Albania is a target country for political, economic and geostrategic reasons. After the membership in NATO and progress in the European Union integration processes, Albania is an increased target of interest. In addition to protecting national classified information, Albania is also responsible for the protection of classified information of NATO and other international organizations.
SHISH assesses that the activities of non-friendly foreign intelligence are continuous, constant, and tend to increase, through a combination of classical and hybrid methods. Their main interest is the collection of information on internal and external developments, Euro-Atlantic integration processes, the dynamics in bilateral and regional relations, confidential and classified information, etc. They aim to hinder Euro-Atlantic integration processes, undermine cohesion between the allied nations, and increase the sensitivity of specific target audiences by attempting to present the Euro-Atlantic alliance as a military threat. We have noticed attempts to collect classified information, influence operations, use of cyber space, online propaganda or disinformation in favor of their strategic objectives.
SHISH is constantly working to monitor these activities, using counterintelligence methods, verifying and helping to raise the awareness among individuals and officials who have access to classified information.

TERRORISM

Terrorism is global threat and the war against it is a major priority for SHISH. We assess that ISIS/DAESH, Al-Qaeda, its affiliates and networks are among the terrorist groups that pose a potential threat to our country, to the region and beyond. SHISH works closely with the state authorities, law enforcement agencies and partner services to monitor and prevent such activities, in the country and abroad. SHISH is also focused in monitoring the indoctrination and radicalization attempts to recruit Albanian nationals in such organizations. After the military pressure, fall of self-declared Caliphate, reduction of financial and human resources, ISIS/DAESH has already started the strategy of transforming itself into a clandestine movement, posing a threat to international security.
SHISH assesses that massive returns of Foreign Terrorist Fighters (hereinafter FTF) are not expected in the near future. Some of FTF will try to return to the countries of origin, or in third countries, using human trafficking and organized crime networks. Most likely, the organization will try to reorganize and reestablish in areas with security vacuum.

Terrorist threat to our country and the region

With the beginning of the conflict in Syria, the Western Balkan countries (hereinafter WB) were used as fertile ground to recruit foreign fighters. ISIS/DAESH and Al-Qaeda have consistently targeted the region through propaganda, calls and plans to commit acts of terror. The current situation has improved, the countries of the region have strengthened their security and counter terrorism measures, implemented effective strategies, undertaken legal reforms and increased regional and international cooperation.
The threat level to our region is assessed to be low, with a rising trend on the eve of big symbolic events. There have been no coordinated terrorist attacks on our soil or in the region, involving human and material casualties. However, there have been many attempts that have found an appropriate environment and radicalized individuals, ready to respond. Plans to carry out terrorist attacks have been identified and neutralized at an early stage.
Travels of FTF from Albania have decreased substantially after 2015 and now are reduced to interruption. Number of FTF killed has increased to 21% out of the total number of FTF. One third of FTF have returned to the country, mainly prior to the legal changes and criminalization of the phenomenon. In general, Returnees have kept a low profile, but some of them have found the same living conditions, have become more radicalized and active in the pursuit of extremist activities and part of disrupted terrorist plots.
We assess that, the risk of the use our region as a transit point by FTF or terrorist operatives to European countries is low, due to better border management, the reinforcement of security measures and the intensification of bilateral, regional and international intelligence cooperation. Threats remain constant, due to identification difficulties, the use of forged documents and the possibility of crossing the borders illegally, with the support of human trafficking networks.

Countermeasures

The criminalization and prosecution of FTF, legal changes in the Criminal Code, have proven effective, reducing radicalization and recruitment in our country and the region. Countries of the region have joined The Global Coalition against ISIS/DAESH, put in place a comprehensive legal framework, by criminalizing terrorist activities and actively implementing UNSC Resolution No.2187. Bilateral, regional and multilateral exchange of information and cooperation have increased considerably. Joint police operations have also taken place, resulting in the arrest of individuals suspected of involvement in terrorist activities and the identification, capture and detention of internationally wanted terrorists.
The ongoing goal of SHISH is to provide objective assessments on short, mid and long term terrorist threats as well as enhanced cooperation with other state agencies. To this end, SHISH has strengthened its cooperation with the State Police, Prosecutor’s Office, Defense Intelligence and Security Agency (hereinafter DISA) and other law enforcement agencies. SHISH has provided and continues to provide an appreciated contribution for the North Atlantic Alliance, in the war against terrorism.
Addressing the causes of radicalization leading to violent extremism and terrorism, the government of Albania has adopted and implemented “The Strategy against Violent Extremism”, with the aim of having a whole society approach.
SHISH also monitors individuals and groups who carry out extremist, nationalistic and chauvinistic activities, to the extent that they violate the Constitution and the laws of the Republic of Albania, or call for violence based on ideological religious, political, racial or national grounds. SHISH is focused on the activities of like-minded organizations operating in the region, which pose a threat to national and regional security.

ORGANIZED CRIME, TRAFFICKING OF NARCOTICS, CORRUPTION AND CRIMES IN ECONOMY

The fight against organized crime, organizations, groups and individuals implicated in the organized crime activities in general and in the area of cultivation, production and drug trafficking in particular, is major priority for the Government and law enforcement agencies. As such, it is one of the main priorities and a target of SHISH, because of its negative impact on economy, social conditions and national security. Our Service also works closely with the partner intelligence services.
SHISH assesses that these criminal structures are aggressive, tend to expand their activities and adapt to the situations, in order to avoid increased security measures taken by the law enforcement agencies. They use technology, encrypted communications, falsified documents and different identities. SHISH is represented at the Inter-Institutional Task Force “Force of Law”, set up to crack down the criminal groups operating in the country. Thanks to the contribution of SHISH at the Task Force “Force of Law”, successful operations are carried out, putting an end to the illegal activities of criminal groups. Targeting, prosecution and disruption of criminal activities is accompanied by the identification and confiscation of illegal properties and monetary assets, generated by criminal activities.
SHISH also collects information on illicit trade and trafficking of arms, ammunition and explosives as well as on the activities of individuals or organizations involved in their production, trafficking and use for criminal or terrorist purposes. Illegal migration and human trafficking are also targets of the Service activities.
SHISH collects information, works closely together and supports the relevant state bodies and law enforcement agencies, in the fight against corruption and economic crime. The activity of SHISH in this area focuses on the negative phenomena of corruption in high levels of the judicial system and the public administration, large tax and fiscal evasion, having a significant impact on the economy. The Service is also focused on the activities of groups and organizations involved in money laundering and cleaning of criminal products.

INFORMATION SECURIY

SHISH has access, administers and transmits classified information in classified networks, which can be target of special intelligence services, criminal, terrorist and organized crime groups, etc. Cyber threats and attacks to information systems are becoming more complex and require a professional and timely response, through capacity building, increased cooperation with other state institutions and a continuous training of specialists.
Current technological developments and digital communications are exploited by state and non-state actors to undertake cyber attacks, cyber espionage, gather intelligence in the political, economic, military and technological field, to strengthen the propaganda, to send messages to their supporters, coordinate their activities and enable terrorist operations in the field. In cooperation with the Albanian National Security Authority (hereinafter NSA) (DSCI-Directorate for the Security of Classified Information) and other state institutions, SHISH contributes to the:

  • Physical security of classified information, through the implementation of a series of physical, technical, electronic and procedural measures for the protection of the zones, buildings, offices and devices, where it is administered and transmitted national information classified as “State Secret”, NATO, EU and other international organizations classified information. Physical security measures aim to protect national classified “State Secret” information, NATO, EU and other international organizations classified information from the non-friendly foreign intelligence/security services, terrorist cyber-attacks, thefts, damages, compromise, loss, destruction, access by unauthorized/non-certified persons, as well as attempts from unauthorized individuals who want to have access beyond the “need to know” principle and level of the Personal Security Clearance.
  • Electronic security, aiming to prevent interventions of unauthorized individuals in security zones and environments, where national “State Secret”, NATO, EU and other international organizations classified information is stored and processed, as well as the establishment of devices and systems of electronic security, with the intention to discover and prevent activities that threaten the security of classified information.
  • Technological development has enabled administration of classified information in computing systems and its safe transmission via classified and certified networks. SHISH safeguards the administration and transmission of classified information in its classified networks.
  • The vetting of individuals, who have access and administer classified information, in public and non-public institutions.
  • Set up of capacities for timely monitoring and informing on cyber threats and groups, individuals and organizations that use cyber space for activities that threaten the national security.

POLITICAL AND SECURITY SITUATION IN THE REGION

FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE ACTIVITIES

The Western Balkan countries generally share common geo-political interests and have undertaken a number of reforms aimed at further consolidating democratic societies, market economies, the rule of law and meeting the criteria for integration in the Euro-Atlantic structures. The substitution of the old dynamics of disintegration with the new dynamics of Euro-Atlantic integration, remains a challenge for building a safe and integrated region.
Despite attempts to solve the legacy inherited over the years in bilateral and regional relations, different problems have endangered regional stability and have become an obstacle in the process of membership in Euro-Atlantic structures. Objections have been raised by some regional actors, trying to preserve the current status quo. This is due to the narrow political interests inspired or encouraged by ethnic-nationalistic organizations, or third-party actors, in promoting their geo-strategic interests and the presentation of other alternatives to the Euro-Atlantic integration.
Membership of Albania and other countries of the region in NATO and the European integration processes have broadened the basis for strengthening security and stability in our country and in the region.
SHISH closely monitors political and security developments that may affect national security, regional stability and security.