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This article is about the Galactic Empire's security police. You may be looking for other uses of the term.

"We're the Imperial Security Bureau. What we say is principle; what we decide is regulation; what we do is law."
"And whoever you order shot is dead?"
"So you do understand."
Drelfin and Daric LaRone[8]

The Imperial Security Bureau (ISB), the public branch known as Imperial Security Services or simply Imperial Security, still known as the Internal Security Bureau during the transitional period, was a law enforcement and internal intelligence organization of the Galactic Empire under Galactic Emperor Palpatine. Based in the massive ISB Central Office on Imperial Center, it was separate from, larger than, and often rival to Imperial Intelligence.


"Speculation is rife that the newly formed Imperial Security Bureau, an offshoot of Imperial Intelligence, will be folded into the organizational structure of COMPNOR."
―HoloNet News Special Inaugural Edition[4]

The Imperial Security Bureau was formed as an offshoot of Imperial Intelligence a day after the Declaration of a New Order in 19 BBY[4] by Crueya Vandron.[1] On that day, a HoloNet News Special Inaugural Edition report mentioned that speculation existed about the newly formed Imperial Security Bureau being folded into the Commission for the Preservation of the New Order.[4] Its forerunner, the Internal Security Bureau,[5] was combined with elements of the fanatical Commission for the Preservation of the New Order, formerly the Commission for the Protection of the Republic,[1] and the Coruscant Security Force's Anti-Terrorism Unit and detective units.[6] Vandron formed the organization to keep an eye on the Imperial Navy and to ensure that the New Order's ideals were carried out.[1] Ironically, most of the CSF officers transferred to the ISB were not enthusiastic about Palpatine or the New Order.[6]


Two ISB officers on the First Death Star.

The ISB stationed moles among the officers of all capital ships in the Imperial Navy; their duty was to report on any possibly treasonous activities or sentiments present among others of the ship's crew (especially the commander), and to execute them if they acted upon them, a job that they shared with Imperial Intelligence. The ISB served the same police function as Imperial Intelligence, albeit with a more public presence; ISB operatives were not afraid of identifying themselves, and maintained an overt force of Operations Ships to make arrests. The ISB also was responsible for wiping out any memories of the Jedi Order. They destroyed the collection of Jedi antiquities on Obroa-skai. In large part because of their role as the Empire's secret police, the ISB was largely hated by members of the Imperial Military despite having an official working relationship with them, due to the fact that they constantly had to look over their shoulder.[9]

Even though several key ISB members, such as Colonel Wullf Yularen, died aboard the first Death Star when it was destroyed over Yavin, the ISB continued to be a strong political faction within the Empire as evidenced by ISB Central Commander Sollaine making a bid to replace Darth Vader at the Emperor's side shortly after Executor was finished. Such was his power that he commandeered Vader's old flagship, Devastator, to track down the important Imperial turncoat, Rivoche Tarkin.[2]

After the death of Palpatine at the Battle of Endor, the ISB along with other Imperial factions devolved into the Imperial Civil War. Specifically, the ISB and Imperial Intelligence initiated a campaign of assassinations against each other that annihilated much of both organizations' leadership. By the end of the civil war and the Imperial Reunification under Admiral Natasi Daala, the ISB had dissolved.[7] A successor agency, Imperial Security, was later formed to serve as a security force for the Imperial Remnant.[10]


"The Imperial Security Bureau operates in parallel with Imperial Intelligence and many of its functions overlap with those of its 'older brother.' Yet the ISB is a recent organization, founded under the auspices of the New Order. It exists to ensure ideological consistency within the Empire's internal operations. The agents of the ISB are essentially the Empire's secret police."
Admiral Wullf Yularen, Imperial Handbook: A Commander's Guide[9]
ISB organization chart

ISB organization chart

Commission of Operations[]

The Commission of Operations was responsible for passing on the directions of the Central Office directly to the Sector Officer for each of the various ISB branches. All coordination between the different branches within a sector, or between Bureau resources in separate sectors, was dictated by the Commission of Operations.


Surveillance was the largest branch of the ISB, with nearly 35 percent of all personnel in the Bureau. The quality of agents in Surveillance, however, was not always great. A good portion of Surveillance agents were candidates straight from the Sub-Adult Group, but these were poorly trained, albeit eager and promising. The rest were made up of properly trained CompForce Observers, agents from Progress's Sector Monitor, Improvement's Sector Development, and local contacts aiming to subvert other local powers.

Surveillance was tasked with uncovering beings or activities helpful to the Rebel Alliance or that may obstruct the Empire's plans. Many of Surveillance's targets were later turned over to Investigations for more thorough action. Surveillance was also responsible for instilling fear of the Empire into its citizens, so that they would think twice before assisting the Rebellion.


Investigations was the skillfully superior branch of the Imperial Security Bureau, when compared to Surveillance. Many Department of Modification agents and proven agents from Surveillance made up Investigations. Agents of Investigations were always in direct communication with the Imperial military, allowing them to call on a massive amount of firepower and resources should the situation require it, so they could take down Rebel threats with considerably faster response time and effectiveness.

Internal Affairs[]

Agent of the Hand -TCG BotF by Emile Denis

An ISB agent

The Internal Affairs branch was the group responsible for watching COMPNOR, Imperial Personnel, and the citizens of the Empire, another example of multiple layers of control and authority overlapping one another in the Galactic Empire. Science, Commerce and Justice groups within the Coalition for Progress, and the Enforcements branch of the ISB, were all key targets of Internal Affairs.

It is unknown whether or not the Internal Affairs division had the authority to monitor the Select Committee, though it is known that they did not consider the Select Committee to be above suspicion.

Due to COMPNOR's ambiguity in regards to rules and procedures for policing its own members, Internal Affairs was able to take advantage of the situation to expand their power. Affairs agents were isolated from the rest of COMPNOR and had thus developed their own jargon and their own interpretation of the New Order. Other branches of COMPNOR complained about the autonomy of Internal Affairs and their actions, but neither Crueya Vandron nor Emperor Palpatine ever made attempts to stop it, as they apparently supported the work of Internal Affairs.

Internal Affairs called their field agents "keyns", while they called their investigative staff "dirtbugs". The division also developed their own collection of terms to differentiate between the ways they conducted a specific investigation.

To "audit" was to conduct an investigation in which the target and everyone around him knew the investigation was being conducted.

"Finesse" was conducting an investigation by asking the target's help in rooting out other traitors in the hopes they would give away incriminating evidence in their eagerness to point the finger at others.

"Scattering" was the method of grabbing someone whom you had no evidence against, and then observing the behavior of the person's associates to see if any of these react in suspicious ways.

"Crustbusting" was the method of harassing a suspect in the hopes he would do something criminal.

"Cultivation" was the method of allowing a suspect with only minor wrongdoing to proceed unhindered so agents would catch the suspect and any associates in a larger crime, and "irrigation" was covertly staging events so a "cultivated" suspect would have a greater opportunity to commit a larger crime.

Finally, to "Jabba" was to set a suspect up in a no-win situation in which he must commit a crime. The Internal Affairs agent would then promise to forgive the crime if the suspect did a few favors; favors which inevitably caused the suspect to commit some other crime. This ensured that the subject would be permanently indebted to the ISB.


"The challenging part of collecting data comes when the data's owner doesn't want to give it up."
―Unidentified ISB agent[11]

A squad of ISB interrogators.

If a subject caught by Investigations was suspected of still hiding the information the ISB wanted to know, the subject was shipped off to the Interrogation branch. The information they uncovered was sent to Investigations. The interrogation branch was known for using any and all interrogation methods at their disposal, such as direct questioning, drugging, and torturing victims. Curiously, the subject/victim of the interrogation was never seen again. It is unknown whether they were killed, or left in prison.


When a member of COMPNOR was convicted of a crime by Internal Affairs, the subject was transferred to Re-Education. The subject was usually always returned to COMPNOR, although in a position of lower importance. It was reported that these individuals acted strangely when returned, their conversation disjointed, and their emotions out of phase with the situation. They were called "Graduated of Re-Education" or "Re-education" officially, but amongst other members of COMPNOR, it was said they were "Re-brained".


ISB Infiltrator IA

A pair of ISB Infiltrators

The Enforcement branch provided specialized muscle for the ISB. They occasionally operated for Internal Affairs, but most often they were working for Investigations. Enforcement was the only division within all of COMPNOR that hired beings who were not members of COMPNOR, which earned the suspicion of the Internal Affairs division, who were worried the use of unindoctrinated personnel was too risky.

Nevertheless, Enforcement was thus able to increase the amount of available talent, and perform operations the Select Committee would rather not be performed by COMPNOR members. In addition, Enforcement did its best to protect its operatives from unwarranted interferences from the Internal Affairs division, though a permanent tension existed between the two groups that no one could avoid.

Security Operations[]


The Security Operations headquarters

Imperial Security Operations (ISO) was an organization within the ISB that provided intelligence and covert operations. Their headquarters was located in Imperial City on Coruscant.

ISB stormtroopers[]

The ISB had its own stormtroopers that operated outside the command structure of the Stormtrooper Corps. As they wore identical armor to that of regular stormtroopers, they were sometimes used to infiltrate standard units of stormtroopers to ensure their loyalty and the execution of their orders. A good example of this was an attack against Rebel sympathizers on Teardrop in 0 ABY, where ISB stormtroopers noticed that stormtrooper Daric LaRone was deliberately not shooting civilians. They were also more questioning of their orders than standard stormtroopers, as shown when two ISB stormtroopers betrayed the Emperor's Hand Mara Jade, while she was infiltrating a pirate base on Gepparin. They were often attached to ISB tactical units.[8]


Colonel Wullf Yularen in the Death Star conference room.

Behind the scenes[]

Conception and development[]

The Imperial Security Bureau first appeared in "Rebel Breakout," the first adventure scenario published in the first edition of Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game by West End Games in 1987.[12] The Death Star Technical Companion, a 1991 sourcebook authored by Bill Slavicsek, established the presence of Imperial Security Bureau on board of the DS-1 Orbital Battle Station.[13] In December 1995,[14] the release of the "Premiere Limited" base set of Decipher, Inc.'s Star Wars Customizable Card Game identified an extra at the Death Star conference room as Colonel Wullf Yularen of the Imperial Security Bureau, retroactively establishing Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope as their first appearance.[15]

The ISB has several accounts of its founding and this article treats the various sources as complementary. These accounts include the founding by Crueya Vandron according to the Imperial Sourcebook,[1] the Internal Security Bureau as the ISB's forerunner according to The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia,[5] the ISB as an offshoot of the Imperial Intelligence according to the Republic HoloNet News Special Inaugural Edition 16:5:241,[4] and the ISB being formed from chunks of the CSF including detectives and the Anti-Terrorism Unit according to Imperial Commando: 501st.[6]

ISB uniform[]


ISB Investigations Specialist depicted with a gray ISB Agent uniform in Heroes & Rogues supplement book.

The 1991's Death Star Technical Companion established a distinct uniform for ISB Agents.[13] A template for ISB Investigations Specialist in Heroes & Rogues, a supplement book for Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game published[16] in December 11, 1995,[17] established the ISB Agent uniform to be gray like the rest of Imperial military uniforms.[16] In February 1996, The Truce at Bakura Sourcebook established that Imperial Intelligence security officers proudly wore so-called "Intelligence grays."[18] In July 1996,[19] an Imperial Intelligence officer Evax was created for the A New Hope Limited expansion set of Star Wars Customizable Card Game, which established the white uniform as worn by Wullf Yularen to not be exclusive to the Imperial Security Bureau.[20] The fact that ISB uniform was gray was reiterated in the RPG adventure Operation: Elrood, published in December 1996.[21]

The Central Commander Sollaine of ISB was established to wear a customized version of standard ISB uniform that was described as black in "Small Favors," a short story by Paul Danner published in February 1997 in the twelfth issue of West End Games' Star Wars Adventure Journal magazine.[22] In June 1997,[23] a template for ISB Agent in Player's Guide to Tapani reiterated the fact that ISB uniform was gray, although the template suggested that the agent worked undercover.[24] Sometime between January 20, 1996 and June 25, 1998, Dr. Curtis Saxton made an assumption that every white-uniformed officer aboard the Death Star was an ISB officer, not just Wullf Yularen, on his Star Wars Technical Commentaries fan site.[25] In his endnotes for the 2006's Rookies webstrips, Pablo Hidalgo noted that he personally believed that ISB officers were quite often not in their uniform and were sprinkled throughout Imperial ranks to sniff out sedition.[26]


ISB Agent

An ISB agent.


Non-canon sources[]

Notes and references[]

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 Imperial Sourcebook
  2. 2.0 2.1 SWAJsmall "Small Favors" — Star Wars Adventure Journal 12
  3. Star Wars: Dark Forces
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 SWInsider "Republic HoloNet News Special Inaugural Edition 16:5:241" — Star Wars Insider 84
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 Imperial Commando: 501st
  7. 7.0 7.1 The Essential Guide to Warfare
  8. 8.0 8.1 Allegiance
  9. 9.0 9.1 Star Wars: Imperial Handbook: A Commander's Guide
  10. Fate of the Jedi: Backlash
  11. SWGTCGsmall Star Wars Galaxies Trading Card GameThreat of the Conqueror (Card: Imperial Agent) (backup link)
  12. WEG icon2 "Rebel Breakout" — Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game
  13. 13.0 13.1 Death Star Technical Companion
  14. Product Timeline on Decipher, Inc. (content now obsolete; archived from the original on August 15, 2003)
  15. Swccglogolg Star Wars Customizable Card GamePremiere Limited (Card: Colonel Wullf Yularen) (backup link)
  16. 16.0 16.1 Heroes & Rogues
  17. LogoBN Star Wars the Roleplaying Game: Heroes & Rogues (Star Wars Supplements Series) on Barnes & Noble's official website (backup link)
  18. The Truce at Bakura Sourcebook
  19. SWInsider "Pick a Card, Any Card: Making Movie Magic at Decipher, Inc." — Star Wars Insider 31
  20. Swccglogolg Star Wars Customizable Card GameA New Hope Limited (Card: Officer Evax) (backup link)
  21. Operation: Elrood
  22. SWAJsmall "Small Favors" — Star Wars Adventure Journal 12
  23. Cargo Bay Player's Guide to Tapani in the StarWars.com Cargo Bay (content now obsolete; backup link)
  24. Player's Guide to Tapani
  25. Imperial Insignia: Imperial Security Bureau by Curtis Saxton on Star Wars Technical Commentaries (archived from the original on October 9, 1999)
  26. StarWarsDotComBlogsLogoStacked "Rookies: Rendezvous -- Week Two Annotations" — Fragments from the Mind's EyePablo Hidalgo's StarWars.com Blog (backup link)

External links[]