SAVAK, the Organization of Intelligence and National Security, was the secret police, domestic security and intelligence service established by Iran's Mohammad Reza Shah with the help of the United States' CIA and Israeli Mossad. SAVAK operated from 1957 to 1979, when the prime minister Shapour Bakhtiar ordered its dissolution during the outbreak of Iranian Revolution. SAVAK has been described as Iran's "most hated and feared institution" prior to the revolution of 1979 because of its practice of torturing and executing opponents of the Pahlavi regime. The organization had between 4,000 and 60,000 agents serving in its ranks.
During the height of its power, SAVAK had virtually unlimited powers. It operated its own detention centers. In addition to domestic security the service's tasks extended to the surveillance of Iranians abroad, notably in the United States, France, and the United Kingdom, and especially students on government stipends. The agency also closely collaborated with the American CIA by sending their agents to an air force base in New York to share and discuss interrogation tactics.
Sources disagree over how many victims SAVAK had and how inhumane its techniques were. Writing at the time of the Shah's overthrow, TIME magazine described SAVAK as having "tortured and murdered thousands of the Shah's opponents” symbolizing "the Shah's rule from 1963-79." Torture methods included "electric shock, whipping, beating, inserting broken glass and pouring boiling water into the rectum, tying weights to the testicles, and the extraction of teeth and nails."
SAVAK was closed down shortly before the overthrow of the monarchy and the coming to power of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in the February 1979 Iranian Revolution. Following the departure of the Shah in January 1979, SAVAK's 3,000+ central staff and its agents were targeted for reprisals; almost all of them that were in Iran at the time of the Iranian Revolution were hunted down and executed; only a few who