Iraq established an extensive arms and technology procurement network in the 1980s to acquire technology, hardware and personnel for Iraq's nuclear, chemical, biological weapons and missile programms. The effort was directed by Hussein Kamil, who used Amn al Khas to coordinate the implementation of a covert network of front companies to acquire equipment, technologies, supplies and material.
Kamil defected to Jordan in August 1995, and was assasinated on 23 February 1996 when he subsequently re-defected to Iraq. In January 1997 Qusai Saddam Hussein appointed Major Nawfal Mahjoom Al-Tikriti to head the Special Security Office.
Currently the organization's primary task is to protect the Baath leadership in Iraq. Their ranks are filled with the most loyal troops serving in the Iraqi armed forces, whose dedication to Baathism and to Saddam Hussein personally had been tested on numerous occasions. These troops face considerable danger because the frequent assassination attempts on the president and on his close associates usually meant loss of life among bodyguards. Survivors are generously rewarded, however. Among its various responsibilities the Special Security Service is charged with surveillance of those holding sensitive positions in Intelligence, Military Intelligence, the Military Engineering Drawing Bureau, and the distribution branches of the military security agencies.