Terror suspect Daniel Khalife to face court over prison escape


Daniel Abed Khalife, a former British Army soldier who was on remand awaiting trial on terrorism charges, escaped from HM Prison Wandsworth in London on 6 September 2023. He had been working in the prison kitchen and was wearing a chef’s uniform consisting of a white t-shirt, red and white chequered trousers and brown steel-toe cap boots

It is believed that he escaped by strapping himself to the bottom of a food delivery lorry that was leaving the prison. He managed to evade the security checks and surveillance cameras at the prison gates. He then cut himself free from the lorry and fled on foot.

Terror suspect Daniel Khalife to face court over prison escape
Terror suspect Daniel Khalife to face court over prison escape

The prison authorities did not realise that he was missing until the evening roll call, which was delayed due to a fire alarm. By then, Khalife had been on the run for more than 12 hours

How was he recaptured by the police?

The escape triggered a nationwide manhunt and delays at major transport hubs. The Metropolitan Police, the British Transport Police, the National Crime Agency and the MI5 were all involved in the search for Khalife. They issued an appeal to the public for any information or sightings of him. They also warned that he could be dangerous and should not be approached.

The police received hundreds of calls from the public, but none of them led to Khalife’s whereabouts. The police also searched various locations in London and Staffordshire, where Khalife had connections, but found no trace of him.

On 9 September 2023, four days after his escape, Khalife was finally captured by the police in Northolt, west London. He was riding a push bike on a canal towpath when he was spotted by a plain-clothes counter-terrorism officer who recognised him from his distinctive tattoos. The officer tackled him to the ground and arrested him with the help of other officers who arrived shortly after.

Khalife did not resist arrest and did not have any weapons or explosives on him. He was taken to a police station in central London for questioning.

What are the charges against him?

Khalife is facing several charges relating to terrorism and explosives offences. He is accused of accessing the Joint Personnel Administration system, which contains personal information about soldiers, and elicit data that could be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism. He is also accused of leaving canisters with wires at MOD Stafford, a military base where he used to work, with the intent of inducing in another person the belief that they were likely to explode or ignite.

These offences are contrary to section 51 of the Criminal Law Act 1977 and section 58A of the Terrorism Act 2000 respectively. He is also facing charges under the Official Secrets Act for breaching his duty of confidentiality as a former soldier.

Khalife pleaded not guilty to all these charges when he appeared at the Old Bailey on 21 July 2023. His trial is due to begin on 13 November 2023.

It has been alleged that Khalife was gathering information to pass on to Iran, which has been accused of sponsoring terrorist groups and pursuing nuclear weapons. However, this has not been confirmed by the authorities or Khalife himself.

What are the consequences of his escape?

Khalife’s escape has raised serious questions about the security and management of Wandsworth prison, which is one of the largest and most overcrowded prisons in England and Wales. It has also exposed the vulnerability of the prison system to potential terrorist attacks or infiltration.

The Ministry of Justice has launched an urgent investigation into how Khalife managed to escape from Wandsworth prison and what measures can be taken to prevent such incidents from happening again. The prison governor and staff have been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.

Khalife has also been charged with escaping from lawful custody, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. He will appear in custody at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Monday, 11 September 2023 to face this charge as well as his previous charges relating to terrorism and explosives offences.


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