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Fünfergruppe   5-er
European military intelligence partnership

Fünfergruppe, also known as 5-er Club (Club of five), 1 is the cryptonym of a secret European five-partner alliance in the field of military intelligence. The group comprises the intelligence services of Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands (Army), France and Belgium.

The countries participating in the Club of Five, shown here with their BND cryptonyms.

The existence of the alliance was first publicly disclosed (unwittingly) in a handwritten note that was published on 1 July 2020 by journalists Peter F. Müller, Ulrich Stoll and David Ridd in the German newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau, in which they provide evidence of the existence of another European five-country intelligence alliance — MAXIMATOR [1]. 2 The note was written by a member of the German delegation, presumable a member of the BND or ZfCh. Müller obtained the note as part of a trove of documents related to Operation Rubicon, which the same journalists had disclosed in February 2020. Barely readable, the note had initially escaped his attention.

Handwritten note made in 1986 by a BND or ZfCH officer during a Maximator Conference. Click to enlarge. © 2020 Müller/Stoll/Ridd [1].

Shortly after publication of the note in the Frankfurter Rundschau, it was picked up by Dutch researcher Peter Koop, who published a detailed analysis on his website [2]. Apparently, the note contains a lot of codewords, most of which are BND cryptonyms. MAXIMATOR and its members are revealed in the second column marked Pol (Political). To its left, under the heading Mil (Military), the members of the 5 er Club are listed: Wicke, Begon, Kresse H, Pfingstrose. 3

 Read the full analysis (off-site)

  1. According to Richard Aldrich in [4], a group consisting of the same countries existed since the early 1980s under the name The Ring of Five (not to be confused with the Cambridge Spy Ring).
  2. Prior to Peter F. Müller et al., the existence of MAXIMATOR had been revealed in April 2020 by Dutch Professor of computer security Bart Jacobs [3].
  3. As the note was written by a German member, Germany itself is not listed.

# Country BND Cryptonym Organisation(s)
1 Germany ? MAD, BND, ZfCh
2 Denmark Begonie FE (DDIS)
3 Netherlands Kresse-H 1 MIVD
4 Belgium Pfingstrose ADIV
5 France Wicke DGSE
  1. The suffix 'H' is the abbreviation of the German word Heer (Army).

  1. Peter F. Müller, Ulrich Stoll and David Ridd, Exklusiv-Recherche: BND spionierte jahrzehntelang am Parlement vorbei
    Frankfurter Rundschau, 1 July 2020

  2. Peter Koop, A unique note from the BND about European SIGINT alliances
    Electrospaces website, 22-31 July 2020.

  3. Prof. Dr. Bart Jacobs,
    Maximator: European signal intelligence cooperation, from a Dutch perspective

    Intelligence and National Security, Taylor & Francis Online, 7 April 2020.

  4. Richard Aldrich GCHQ: The Uncensored Story of Britain's Most Secret Intelligence Agency
    London, 2020.
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