German president Angela Merkel, who was visiting London for talks on the European Union during the Charlie Hebdo shootings yesterday, joined British Prime Minister David Cameron for a intelligence briefing by MI5 and MI6.
Although Germany is a close ally of the United Kingdom, welcoming Merkel into the top-secret security meeting was an extraordinary move as the European powerhouse remains excluded from the high-level ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence community. Founded during the Second world war, the club of Anglophone nations – Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and United States – shares all intelligence freely and without restriction at the very highest levels.
Germany has repeatedly requested to join the ‘club’ of trusted nations but the requests have been denied, and the nation remains locked out of the most secret intelligence collected by the club.
David Cameron is attending a second, more detailed meeting today with the Cabinet Office Briefing Room (COBRA), to receive the highest-level terror assessments from the joint chiefs of the British intelligence services. While France has increased its terrorism threat to the highest level after yesterday’s attack, Britain’s remains at ‘Severe’, the second to highest level.
The Foreign Office has taken the unusual step of updating its travel advice for British citizens in France. The Daily Mail reports their France webpage was updated yesterday to read: “If you’re in Paris or the Ile de France area, take extra care and follow the security advice issued by the French authorities.
“There is a high threat from terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate. Due to ongoing threats to France by Islamist groups, and recent French military intervention against ISIL, the French government has warned the public to be especially vigilant and has reinforced its own domestic and overseas security measures.
“Previous incidents attributed to Islamist extremists have included the shooting of 3 soldiers and 4 civilians in Toulouse, and a knife attack on a soldier near Paris”.