Chief of Defence Staff: Jihadists ‘Hiding in Plain Sight’, Western Democracy Under Threat


Britain’s most senior professional military officer has given a stark warning on the dangers of radical Islam, the migrant crisis, and cyber-security in a wide-ranging and major address in London.

Appointed as Chief of the Defence Staff — the professional head of Britain’s armed forces and top military adviser to the Prime Minister — in summer 2016, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach GBE KCB ADC DL used a traditional Christmas lecture to warn of the threats facing the United Kingdom.


ACM Peach meets the Prime Minister / Getty Images

Speaking at the annual lecture given by the incumbent Chief of the Defence Staff at the Royal United Services Institute on Whitehall, ACM Peach said while the Islamic State was being beaten on the ground in the Levant, they were moving their operatives to Europe. He said: “as we examine the threats and risks we face, I worry about the global reach of [The Islamic State] as an idea. Copycats using the internet, using social media, and popping up all over the world… this is no longer a localised phenomena. It is a wider phenomena.

“And of course we face, as my friend [the director-general of MI5] has said, a potential network of combat experienced terrorists. On the other hand they are losing territory rapidly, foreign fighters are being killed and displaced but they are moving in migrant flows, hiding in plain sight.

ACM Peach said how “we manage identity” of migrants who, for various reasons are deliberately destroying or hiding their own identities in a bid to access Europe is “a very important subject”.

Speaking on cyber security and developing Russian influence in the political sphere, ACM Peach said Britain and other Western nations were experiencing a “strategic state-on-state era of competition and I do not see that diminishing or ending soon”. He remarked: “Russian communications through Russia Today and many other media forms are before us in many part of the world.

“Many people have alleged political subversion, propaganda rather than information, and there’s no doubt, it’s not a secret, that Russia is using cyber as part of state power. This is in direct competition with our approach to sustaining rules-based order”.

In tackling these threats, the ACM said: “We need a full spectrum response to the upstream problems, which integrates diplomacy, the military effect, economic influence, information and the media, as well as our other strengths which are rarely mentioned.”

Breitbart London has reported on the issue of Islamic State and other terrorist group fighters smuggling themselves into Europe, using the migrant crisis and lack of control on the continent’s frontiers as cover. German and Austrian intelligence services reported in November that hundreds of Islamic State fighters had come to Europe in this way, with individual terrorists arriving as part of a coordinated and dispersed network of operatives.

Ten Islamic State killers who smuggled themselves into Europe went on to kill 215, and injured hundreds more in a series of coordinated attacks in France and Brussels in 2015 and 2016. Six of that group attacked the Bataclan theatre and other targets in Paris in November 2015 and four took place in suicide bombings in Brussels in March of 2016 with Belgian-born Islamists.

Follow Oliver Lane on Twitter: or e-mail to:




Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.