The pursuit of Daniel Abed Khalife, a terror suspect and former British soldier who broke free from a London prison, has entered its second day. The 21-year-old fugitive, accused of terrorism-related charges, managed a daring escape on Wednesday by stealthily clinging to the underside of a delivery truck departing from Wandsworth Prison in South London.
According to The Times of London, Khalife, who had been employed in the prison’s kitchen, concealed himself beneath the vehicle, donned chef’s attire, and clung to the moving truck until it exited the prison gates.
The alarm was raised at 7:50 a.m. local time (2:50 a.m. Eastern) on Wednesday when Khalife was reported missing, as confirmed by U.K. law enforcement.
Khalife, a former British Army soldier awaiting trial on charges related to planting fake bombs at an army base and acquiring sensitive personal information about soldiers from a U.K. Ministry of Defense database, now faces a heightened manhunt. Prosecutors presented evidence during a previous court appearance, suggesting Khalife’s actions were designed to obtain information useful for acts of terrorism.
The BBC reported allegations that Khalife had affiliations with Iran, a claim vehemently denied by the suspect. Dominic Murphy, a counterterrorism commander within London’s Metropolitan Police, has issued a public appeal, urging citizens to report any sightings of Khalife, expressing concern that he could be anywhere in the U.K.
The escape has prompted intensified security checks at British ports and airports, resulting in potential delays for departing passengers. Heathrow Airport, in a social media announcement, alerted travelers to expect longer waiting times due to these additional security measures.
Questions have arisen regarding the suitability of Wandsworth Prison, classified as a “Category B” facility, to detain a suspect facing such grave charges. It is considered less secure than “Category A” prisons, the highest security classification in the U.K. In response, U.K. Justice Minister Alex Chalk has initiated two urgent reviews—one focused on Wandsworth Prison’s categorization and the other on prisons nationwide housing terrorism-related detainees.
In addressing the British Parliament, Chalk reaffirmed the commitment to bringing Khalife to justice, promising, “Daniel Khalife will be found, and he will be made to face justice.” Concurrently, an internal investigation within the prison is underway to ascertain why Khalife was held at Wandsworth and whether security protocols were followed accurately.
The Times of London also reported a one-hour delay between prison officials discovering Khalife’s escape and notifying the police. As of now, authorities have not provided any further updates on Khalife’s whereabouts, leaving the nation on edge as the search intensifies.