A former soldier, now suspected of terrorism and spying, who escaped two days ago from a London prison kitchen by strapping himself under a food delivery van has been recaptured by police in Chiswick, West London. He had changed his red and white checked prison pants for black ones.
Daniel Abed Khalife, 21, was arrested in Chiswick, west London, on Saturday, having gone missing in his cook’s uniform from HMP Wandsworth in London on Wednesday morning.
The Metropolitan police said they had arrested him just before 11am on Saturday. He is being held in police custody.
The force added: “We would like to thank the public and media for their support throughout our investigation to locate Khalife, and we will provide a further update on his arrest in due course.”
Metropolitan Police officers have arrested Daniel Khalife who escaped from HMP Wandsworth on 6 Sep
Officers apprehended him just before 11am today in the #Chiswick area, and he is currently in police custody
We thank the public and media for their support with info & appeals
— Metropolitan Police (@metpoliceuk) September 9, 2023
Officers said he had changed out of the prison kitchen uniform of a white T-shirt and red and white gingham trousers, into a black baseball cap, black T-shirt and dark-coloured trousers. They added that they believed he had been carrying a small bag.
Members of the public had reported sightings of him in the area, on the opposite bank of the River Thames from His Majesty’s Prison, Wandsworth.
His escape sparked a major police hunt involving 150 counter-terrorism officers, with ports and airports placed on high alert and some passengers facing delays as extra checks were carried out. Investigators have also been urgently trying to establish whether anyone helped him to escape from HMP Wandsworth.
Khalife was being held at the category B prison awaiting trial for allegedly planting a fake bomb and gathering information that might be useful to terrorists or enemies of the UK. He has denied the three charges against him.
The Bidford van, the underside of which he is believed to have strapped himself to, left HMP Wandsworth at 7.32am on Wednesday. Khalife was declared missing at 7.50am, police were informed at 8.15am and the van was stopped at 8.37am in Upper Richmond Road. By Thursday, police had received more than 50 calls from the public but no confirmed sightings.
Officers then shut off the 2,500-acre Richmond park in south-west London on Friday to search for the former soldier, but did not find him. He grew up in the area and is thought to know it well.
They then reported that Khalife had been seen walking away from a food delivery lorry at a roundabout a mile from the jail.
A close relative had told the Times that they wanted him to give himself up.
His escape provoked a furious political row with ministers criticised over cuts and staff shortages that have left potentially dangerous inmates in low-security prisons. The fact that Khalife was held in a category B prison when he had been charged with such serious offences also prompted concerns that other high-risk inmates might not be held in security conditions that matched their alleged crimes.
Another possibility is that Khalife was a mentally disturbed individual who had been overcharged with very severe crimes.
The chief inspector of prisons, the chair of parliament’s justice committee and the prison officers’ union, the POA, all said HMP Wandsworth was known to have staffing issues, adding to pressure on the government over Khalife’s escape, which Labour Party spokespeople have said “beggars belief”.
Sources: The Guardian, BBC, news agencies.