Ex-soldier accused of terrorism is hunted by police after prison escape

Ex-soldier accused of terrorism is hunted by police after prison escape

Police are continuing to hunt for a former soldier accused of terrorism who is believed to have escaped from a prison kitchen by clinging to a delivery van.

Daniel Abed Khalife, 21, went missing in his cook’s uniform from HMP Wandsworth on Wednesday, prompting extra security checks at major transport hubs.

There are fears the fugitive – who has been missing since 8am on Wednesday – might be attempting to flee the country.

The Sun reported that a source close to the investigation said Khalife used makeshift straps to tie himself to the underside of a grocery van which then drove him out of the prison.

The Times reported there was a delay of around an hour between prison officials noticing he was missing and contacting the police.

Khalife, who was discharged from the Army in May 2023, was awaiting trial after allegedly planting a fake bomb at an RAF base and gathering information that might be useful to terrorists or enemies of the UK.

He has denied the three charges against him.

He was last seen wearing a white T-shirt, red and white chequered trousers and brown, steel toe-cap boots, the Metropolitan Police said, and is slim and 6ft 2in, with short brown hair.

The jail was put on lockdown after he fled.

The head of the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command, Commander Dominic Murphy, said there was “no reason to believe Khalife poses a threat to the wider public” but urged people not to approach him and to call 999 if they spot him.

Khalife was held at Belmarsh prison but later transferred to Wandsworth, according to reports.

Daniel Abed Khalife
Daniel Abed Khalife, 21, went missing from HMP Wandsworth on Wednesday (Metropolitan Police/PA)

He has links to north-west England and Kingston in London but Mr Murphy said the hunt is covering the whole of the UK.

Khalife was previously stationed at the Ministry of Defence’s Beacon Barracks in Stafford.

The barracks are home to the Royal Corps of Signals 1st Signal Brigade, the Defence Electronics Agency, the RAF Joint Helicopter Command’s Tactical Supply Wing and No 22 Group air force cadets.

According to the Telegraph, he described his role on social media as being a computer specialist with skills including information technology and system administration.

The 21-year-old appeared at the Old Bailey in late July where he denied the charges he is facing.

He is accused of eliciting or trying to elicit information that could be useful for a terrorist on August 2 2021, and breaching the Official Secrets Act by gathering information that could be useful to an enemy between May 1 2019 and January 6 2022.

The ex-serviceman is also accused of a criminal offence relating to the alleged bomb hoax.

It is claimed that he placed “three cannisters with wires on a desk in his accommodation” with the intention of inducing in another a belief this was “likely to explode or ignite and thereby cause personal injury or damage to property”.

A trial date has been set for November 13 at Woolwich Crown Court.

HMP Wandsworth is a category B prison, the second highest level of security.

Prison stock
The inmate escaped from HMP Wandsworth (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Justice Secretary Alex Chalk has held an urgent call with the prison governor and senior staff in the prison service to seek assurances about what is being done to ensure the jail is secure.

After the manhunt was launched, passengers at Manchester Airport faced delays of about 30 minutes at security as extra passport checks were carried out.

Delays were also reported at the Port of Dover, and Gatwick Airport said additional security measures were in place.