Interpol vs CIA: Difference and Comparison

An intelligence agency is a kind of government agency. It is responsible for exploiting, analysing, and collecting information. The information mainly supports 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. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Interpol is an international organization that facilitates cooperation among police forces from various countries to combat transnational crime.
  2. The CIA is a United States government agency responsible for conducting intelligence and counterintelligence activities.
  3. Interpol focuses on providing a neutral platform for international police collaboration, while the CIA primarily serves the interests of the United States.

Interpol vs CIA 

Interpol facilitates cooperation between law enforcement agencies to combat transnational crimes. The CIA is a United States intelligence agency responsible for gathering, analyzing, and disseminating intelligence information to support US national security objectives.

Interpol vs CIA

The abbreviation for International Crime Police Organization is Interpol. It facilitates the cooperation of more than 180 countries between criminal police forces.

It focuses on promoting 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 was 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

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 known as Interpol. During the first International Criminal Police Congress (1914), Interpol was conceived, which brought approximately 24 countries’ officials to discuss cooperation in law enforcement.

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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 focusing on three chief areas of transnational crimes: 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, including 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 foreign civilian intelligence of the US’s federal government. It is officially tasked with processing, analyzing, and gathering information related to national security worldwide, 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 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.  

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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 in its member states. On the other end, the CIA includes covert operations, paramilitary actions, and intelligence as its duties.  
  2. Interpol works in 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 made easier cooperation and communication in resolving crime and catching crimes, leading 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 the CIA mainly collects information about corporations, foreign governments, and individuals. 
Difference Between Interpol and CIA

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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11 thoughts on “Interpol vs CIA: Difference and Comparison”

  1. Both entities have a very important role for the safety of citizens worldwide. It’s crucial to know the difference between those two.

  2. I believe the comparison table effectively highlights the key differences between Interpol and CIA, making it easier to grasp their unique functions.

  3. The article provides a comprehensive comparison between Interpol and CIA, clearly outlining their roles and impact on international security.

  4. This informative article provides a detailed understanding of the fundamental differences between the functions of Interpol and CIA, essential in the context of global security measures.

  5. The article illuminates the unique roles of Interpol and CIA in addressing various international security threats and law enforcement challenges.

  6. Understanding the roles and differences between Interpol and CIA is essential for comprehending international efforts in combating crime and ensuring security.


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