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European signals intelligence alliance

MAXIMATOR is the cryptonym of a secret European five-partner alliance in the field of signals intelligence and code breaking. The group was named after a German Bavarian beer brand, and comprises the intelligence services of Denmark, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands and France. The existence of the secret partnership — by many seen as the European equivalent of the UKUSA 'five-eyes' — was revealed by Dutch Professor of computer security Bart Jacobs in April 2020 [1].

Maximator Beer from Munich (Germany) after which the MAXIMATOR Alliance was named. Click for a better view.

Although its name had not been disclosed before, the countries of the MAXIMATOR alliance are mentioned in the evaluation reports of Operation RUBICON — the secret purchase of Crypto AG by CIA and BND — as free riders 1 of the information obtained from rigged Crypto AG equipment [3]. Operation RUBICON was disclosed – after a two-year investigation – in February 2020 by ZDF Television (Germany), SRF Television (Switzerland) and The Washington Post newspaper (USA) [4].

The existence of MAXIMATOR was later confirmed by Peter F. Müller, Ulrich Stoll and David Ridd in the German newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau, based on a handwritten note that Müller had discovered in the trove of documents that had led to the revelation of Operation RUBICON [6]. After carefully studying the note, Dutch intelligence researcher Peter Koop later discovered the existence of yet another secret European signal intelligence alliance, known as Fünfergruppe [7].

  1. German: Trittbrettfahrer.

# Country Since Cryptonym Organisation(s)
1 Denmark 1976 Concilium FE (DDIS)
2 Sweden 1976 Thymian FRA
3 Germany 1976 Novalis BND, ZfCh (now: BSI)
4 Netherlands 1978 Edison WKC, TIVC, SVIC (now: JSCU)
5 France 1985 Marathon DGSE

Information exchange
The map below is based on a diagram from 1990, and shows the flow of information between the five countries [A]. As the principal founder, Denmark has flows in all directions, whereas Sweden entirely relies on the information being relayed by Denmark. Initially, the Netherlands only sent information to Germany, which then relayed it to the intelligence services of Denmark and France.

The direct link between the Netherlands and France did not exist in 1990, but was established at a later date. Until that time, the intelligence exchange between them was provided by Germany.

  1. Maximator information flow chart
    1990. Obtained from [1].
  1. Prof. Dr. Bart Jacobs,
    Maximator: European signal intelligence cooperation, from a Dutch perspective

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

  2. Huub Jaspers, De afluistervrienden van Nederland
    VPRO Radio, Argos, 8 April 2020.

  3. Crypto Museum, Operation RUBICON
    19 March 2020.

  4. Crypto Museum, Operation RUBICON — media coverage
    19 March 2020.

  5. Shashank Joshi, Maximator, a European spy act to rival Five Eyes, comes to light.
    The Economist, 26 May 2020.

  6. Peter Müller, Ulrich Stoll & David Ridd, Geheimoperation 'Maximator'
    Frankfurter Rundschau, 1 July 2020.

  7. Peter Koop, A unique note from the BND about European SIGINT alliances
    Electrospaces website, 22-31 July 2020.
Further information
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© Crypto Museum. Created: Wednesday 08 April 2020. Last changed: Thursday, 24 February 2022 - 10:25 CET.
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