A prisoner on remand accused of terrorism offences escaped from London’s Wandsworth Prison two days ago after strapping himself to the underside of a food delivery truck while he was working in a kitchen. No one knows what kind of strapping he used, or indeed why he was working in the kitchen.
Mr. Khalife, a British-born soldier in the British army, was also in a rather unusual position of being a remand prisoner awaiting trial for very serious offences – yet also, as former prison governor John Podmore told BBC News, holding a “plum job” in a prison kitchen.
Kitchen jobs are desirable in prison as they often give inmates an opportunity to obtain extra rations.
Prison officers choose very carefully who gets to work in kitchens because they’re full of knives and other dangerous equipment such as pressure cookers, so the prisoners who work in kitchens have to be trustworthy.
Because of the deliveries, they are also an obvious potential escape route.
Typically, inmates selected to work in kitchens have a record of being reliable and trustworthy.
So why was a man facing terrorism charges working in the kitchens? That’s just one of the questions that many people are asking.
Apparently Khalife had computer access to confidential documents while he was in the army.
Khalife was first accused of building a fake bomb and then he was accused of breaching the Official Secrets Act over a period of over three years, between May 2019 and January 2022, by collecting or sharing documents or information that could be “directly or indirectly useful to an enemy” – understood to be Iran, a state that is supporting Russia in its war in Ukraine and is frequently considered hostile to the UK.
The justice secretary asked for a preliminary report by the end of the week – and has promised there will be a further independent inquiry.
The escape of terror suspect Daniel Khalife was “pre-planned” and “extremely concerning”, the head of the Metropolitan Police has said.
Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley told LBC the force is exploring the possibility that the former soldier was helped by other prisoners or guards.
An overnight search of Richmond Park in south-west London has also taken place.
The 21-year-old is accused of trying to spy for an enemy state, understood to be Iran, and plotting a fake bomb hoax.
Mr Khalife – who joined the British Army in 2019 – clung to the underside of a delivery lorry to make his escape from HMP Wandsworth on Wednesday morning.
Sir Mark said the escape was “clearly pre-planned, the fact that he could strap himself onto the bottom of the wagon” and it was “unlikely to be something you do on the spur of the moment”.
Asked if police are looking into whether it was an “inside job”, the commissioner said: “It is a good question. Did anyone inside the prison help him? Other prisoners, guard staff? Was he helped by people outside the walls or was it simply all of his own creation?”
Sources: BBC, Al Jazeera, Daily Mail, news agencies.