The secret police and intelligence service of the shah from 1957 to 1979.
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.
(IRANIAN HISTORY) Secret police of Iran during the reign of Shah Muhammad Reza (r.1941-1979); began operations in 1957, four years after Operation Ajax. Gen. Herbert Norman Schwarzkopf (father of Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf was a US Army liaison who trained SAVAK in intelligence tactics; additional training was provided by the Israeli military.
General Teymur Bakhtia, the main Iranian military officer involved in Operation Ajax, was rewarded with command of SAVAK; he was dismissed in 1961 because he was believed to be organizing a coup. Subsequently, the Shah had his own secret service to spy on the secret service.
SAVAK's activities to include gathering intelligence and neutralizing the regime's opponents. An elaborate system was created to monitor all facets of political life. For example, a censorship office was established to monitor journalists, literary figures, and academics throughout the country; it took appropriate measures against those who fell out of line. Universities, labor unions, and peasant organizations, among others, were all subjected to intense surveillance by SAVAK agents and paid informants. The agency was also active abroad, especially in monitoring Iranian students who publicly opposed Pahlavi rule.
SAVAK mostly concentrated on Tudeh and populist organizations until the late 1960's, since the clergy was mostly aligned with the monarchy until 1964, when the regime started to redistribute endowments of land held by the religious orders.