Terror suspect escapes London prison after strapping himself to a delivery van

Mick the Ram

Mick the Ram

A manhunt across the entire United Kingdom is in operation after a former soldier suspected of terror offences, escaped from a London prison on the morning of Wednesday 6 September.

Daniel Abed Khalife, was awaiting trial at HMP Wandsworth – a category B prison – after being accused of leaving fake bombs at a military base.

His escape will cause huge embarrassment to officials as it is understood the 21-year-old managed somehow to strap himself to the underside of a food delivery van, after working in the kitchen.

He was last seen wearing a prison-issue chef’s uniform of a white T-shirt, red and white chequered trousers and brown steel toe cap boots, although it is highly likely he will have abandoned those items at the first opportunity.

Extra security checks at airports and ports are being carried out, causing massive tailbacks and long delays.

Escape in broad daylight

The Prison Service is working with the Metropolitan Police to “urgently investigate” just how it was possible for such an escape to occur at 7.50am BST. He is not thought to be of huge danger to the public, but the link to terror offences does increase alarm.

Concerns for him fleeing country

It is thought he probably is being shielded somewhere relatively close, but the prospect of him fleeing to other parts of the country have to be considered genuine, the longer he remains at large.

Counter-terror officers have been deployed right across London, as that is where the search is being focussed for now, although the port of Dover has also been asked to carry out significantly greater security measures in case he attempts to slip across the English Channel.

Fake devices

His trial was set for November, where he faces charges in relation to terrorism and Official Secrets Act offences, including preparing an act of terrorism and collecting information useful to an enemy.

He was allegedly working for a hostile state and had left fake devices at the Ministry of Defence in Stafford, where he had been based, with what was described as an “intention of inducing in another the belief the item was likely to explode or ignite.”

Why not in maximum security?

This situation has sparked questions as to why he was not being held in a higher security jail. Justice Secretary Alex Chalk has ordered an investigation into the escape and has sought “reassurances about security at the prison”, asking whether proper protocols were followed once the alarm was raised.

There have been reports of the prison being “chronically understaffed”, but nevertheless prison escapes have been extremely rare in recent years, with fewer than 20 since 2010.

Difficult questions to answer

Mr Chalk told the House of Commons that the prisoner will be found and will be “made to face justice”. Those remarks are not however going to save the Governor of the jail from facing some very awkward questions in the coming days.

Mr Khalife had denied the charges against him at an earlier court appearance at the Old Bailey back in July.


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