Difference Between Interpol and CIA (With Table)

An intelligence agency is a kind of government agency. It is generally responsible for the exploitation, analysis, and collection of information. The information is mainly in the support of foreign policy, law enforcement, military, and national security objectives.  

Information gathering might mean both covert and overt. It includes cryptanalysis, espionage, communication interception, other institutions’ cooperation, and public sources evaluation. Some of the intelligence agencies are NSA, DIA, FBI, DEA, etc. But in this article, differences between Interpol and the CIA are highlighted. 

Interpol vs CIA 

The main difference between Interpol and the CIA is that Interpol is a worldwide agency that relieves cooperation and communication between agencies of law enforcement of its member states. In contrast, the CIA includes covert operations, paramilitary actions, and intelligence as its duties.  

The abbreviation for International Crime Police Organization is Interpol. It facilitates the cooperation of more than 180 countries between the criminal police forces. It focuses to promote criminal police forces for the widest possible mutual assistance. It develops and establishes institutions likely to contribute to this suppression and prevention of international crime  

The abbreviation for Central Intelligence Agency is CIA. It is the chief counterintelligence and foreign intelligence agency of the government of the U.S In 1947, formally it was created and grew out of the World War II OSS or Simply Office of Strategic Services. 

Comparison Table Between Interpol and CIA 

Parameters of ComparisonInterpolCIA
Formed September 1923September 1947
HeadquartersLyon, FranceLangley, Virginia, US
Agency executivesAlexander Prokopchuk, Kim Jong Yang, and Jurgen StockDavid S. Cohen and William J. Burns
TypeInternational and localPublic
Preceding agenciesInternational Criminal Police Commission, First International Criminal Police Congress, and International Police Conference.Office of Strategic Services

What is Interpol? 

The International Criminal Police Organization is generally known as Interpol. During the first International Criminal Police Congress (1914), Interpol was conceived which brought approx 24 countries’ officials to discuss cooperation in the enforcement of the law. In September 1923, it was founded as the ICPC or International Criminal Police Commission.  

Throughout the 1930s, it adopted several of its current duties. In 1938, after coming under the control of the Nazis, this agency was moribund effectively until the end of World War II. The name Interpol was adopted by ICPC in 1956 with a new constitution.  

Interpol provides expertise, investigative support, and worldwide law enforcement training that focuses on three chief areas of transnational crimes such as organized crime, terrorism, and cybercrime. In contrast to popular belief, this organization itself is not an agency of law enforcement.  

The broad mandate of Interpol covers virtually every type of crime consisting of child pornography, crime against humanity, white-collar crime, intellectual property infringement, political corruption, and drug production and trafficking. It also facilitates cooperation between national law enforcement institutions. 

What is the CIA? 

CIA is a service of civilian foreign intelligence of the US’s federal government. It is officially tasked with processing, analyzing, and gathering information related to national security across the world and primarily with the help of HUMINT or human intelligence. It was formed to create a cleaning house for analysis and intelligence of foreign policy.  

When it comes to the US, it is a chief member of the IC or Intelligence Community, it reports to the National Intelligence’s director and its basic focus is to provide intelligence for the cabinet and president of the United States. Unlike the FBI, this agency has no function in law enforcement.  

CIA generally focuses on gathering overseas intelligence, with a collection of only limited domestic intelligence. Across the US community of intelligence, for the coordination of HUMINT activities, it serves as a national manager. It is the sole agency authorized by law to oversee and carry out covert action at the president’s request.  

CIA exerts foreign political influence with the help of tactical divisions like the Special Activities Center. It was also instrumental in intelligence services establishment in many US-allied countries, like Germany’s BND. CIA also provided support to several foreign political governments and groups. 

Main Differences Between Interpol and CIA 

  1. Interpol is a worldwide agency that relieves cooperation and communication between agencies of law enforcement of its member states. On the other end, the CIA includes covert operations, paramilitary actions, and intelligence as its duties.  
  2. Interpol works in the public and serves its 187 members. On the flip side, the CIA is responsible for the interests and government of the US, both international and local.  
  3. When it comes to origin, two International Police Congresses make easier cooperation and communication in resolving crime and catching crimes led to the development of Interpol. But during World War II, OSS formed as an intelligence agency and the CIA its successor.  
  4. In terms of the motto, “connecting police for a safer world” is the motto for Interpol, whereas the motto of the CIA is “The Work of a Nation. The Center of Intelligence.”  
  5. The primary focus of Interpol is on terrorism, drug trafficking, public safety, organized crimes, money laundering, weapons smuggling, and the like. But CIA’s main function is to collect information about corporations, foreign governments, and individuals. 


It can be concluded that both Interpol and the CIA are two intelligence agencies. The common goal of both agencies is responsible for the exploitation, analysis, and collection of information. Interpol was formed on 7 September 1923. On the other hand, the CIA was formed on 18 September 1947.  

Interpol is an international and locally-based agency, while the CIA is a public based agency. The agency executives of Interpol are Alexander Prokopchuk, Kim Jong Yang, and Jurgen Stock. Meanwhile, David S. Cohen and William J. Burns are two of the agency executives of the CIA. The headquarter of Interpol is located in Lyon, France, whereas the headquarter of the CIA is located in Langley, Virginia, US. 


  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/9781118519639.wbecpx031
  2. https://scholar.google.com/citations?view_op=search_authors&mauthors=CIA&hl=en&oi=ao
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