Explained: What Is Five Eyes Alliance And What It Has Said On Khalistani Terrorist's Killing

Two members of the Five Eyes, the US and Australia, are also part of the Quad grouping with India and Japan.

Explained: What Is Five Eyes Alliance And What It Has Said On Khalistani Terrorist's Killing

Members of the alliance have expressed concern over Canada's allegations.

After accusing "Indian agents" of involvement in the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June - and plunging diplomatic ties with India to a new low - one of the key quarters Canada was hoping for support from is the Five Eyes intelligence alliance. 

The Five Eyes is an alliance of the intelligence agencies of the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. According to a report in the Washington Post, the killing of Nijjar was raised privately by officials of the alliance in the weeks leading up to the G20 Summit in New Delhi earlier this month. No mention of the killing was, however, made publicly before the summit. 

Members of the alliance have expressed concern over the allegations and some have urged India to cooperate with Canada in its investigation.

Two members of the Five Eyes, the US and Australia, are also part of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, grouping with India and Japan.

Founding And Objectives

After their intelligence cooperation played a key role in winning World War II, the United States and the United Kingdom formalised the UKUSA agreement of 1946. The alliance expanded twice and, by 1956, Canada, Australia and New Zealand had also become its members. 

A charter from the alliance states, "It is recognised that the intelligence agencies of the Five Eyes countries cooperate operationally under formal or informal agreements and whereas each country has a variation of law on security of information or official secrets binding officials to secrecy, the Council Members commit to facilitating information sharing and collaboration between themselves."

Intelligence sharing

Various agencies from all five countries share human intelligence, signal intelligence, security intelligence, geospatial intelligence and defence intelligence. Signals intelligence, or SIGINT, refers to information derived from electronic signals and networks such as communications systems - like the mobile network and the internet - radars, and weapons systems. 

Geospatial intelligence, or location intelligence, deals with data such as satellite images and location information and " encompasses all aspects of imagery and geospatial information and services".

Member Statements

Speaking in the Canadian parliament on Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had said his government had "credible allegations" linking the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June with the "agents of the Government of India". 

Terming the allegations "very serious", the United States has said that it supports Canada's efforts to investigate the killing. It has also urged India to cooperate. 

"Certainly the President is mindful of these serious allegations, and they are very serious. And we support Canada's efforts to investigate this. We believe a fully transparent comprehensive investigation is the right approach so that we can all know exactly what happened and of course, we encourage India to cooperate with that," Mr Kirby said in an interview to CNN.

Australia has called the reports of the alleged involvement of Indian officials "concerning" and said it has raised the issue India. 

"Look, these are concerning reports, and I note that investigations are still underway, but obviously these are concerning reports and we are monitoring these developments closely with our partners, and we'll continue to do so... We have raised these issues with our Indian counterparts, as you would expect us to do," Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said. 

UK And New Zealand

The UK has said it is in touch with Canada about the "serious allegations" but added that they would not have a bearing on the trade talks with India.

"Work on the trade negotiations will continue as before. The Canadian authorities will now conduct their work and I'm not going to preempt them. When we have concerns about countries we are negotiating trade deals with, we will raise them directly with the government concerned. But with regards to the current negotiations with India, these are negotiations about a trade deal, and we're not looking to conflate them with other issues," a spokesperson for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said. 

The response from New Zealand was also muted. "If those claims were proven true, that would be of serious concern. I won't comment further on what is an ongoing criminal investigation in Canada," the NZ Herald quoted Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta as saying.