Search for ex-soldier Daniel Khalife after Wandsworth prison breakout

A nationwide manhunt has been launched for a former soldier suspected of terrorism offenses who escaped prison early on Wednesday.

After being accused of leaving fake explosives at a military base, Daniel Abed Khalife, age 21, was awaiting trial at HMP Wandsworth in London.

It is believed he escaped via a prison kitchen by attaching himself to the underside of a food delivery van. The Prison Service and the Metropolitan Police are collaborating to urgently investigate how Mr. Khalife escaped.

The working hypothesis is that Mr. Khalife was in the kitchen when he escaped the category B prison HMP Wandsworth in south-west London at approximately 07:50 BST.

He is 6ft 2ins tall and was last seen wearing a prison chef's uniform consisting of a white T-shirt, red and white striped pants, and brown steel-toed boots according to the police. 

They believe Mr. Khalife poses a "low risk" to the public, but they are urging people not to approach him and to dial 999 instead.

Mr. Khalife, who joined the military in 2019, has ties to the Kingston neighborhood of London and the North West, but the search has been expanded nationwide.

The Met's Counter Terrorism Command director, Cdr. Dominic Murphy, said all police units and British border crossings had been warned. 

This evening, disruptions at frontier departure points are anticipated to subside. Cpl. Murphy stated that counter-terrorism officers have been deployed throughout London, where the search is centered. 

The former soldier was in remand pending trial for terrorism and Official Secrets Act violations, such as preparing a terrorist act and gathering information beneficial to an enemy. He purportedly worked for an enemy state.

In February, the Westminster Magistrates' Court heard that he allegedly left fake devices at MOD Stafford, where he was based, with the intention to convince another person and make them believe that the item was likely to explode. 

According to a previous court appearance, in 2021 he extracted personal information about soldiers from the Ministry of Defence Joint Personnel Administration System that could have been beneficial to someone planning or committing a terrorist act.

Government officials privately question whether it was appropriate for Mr. Khalife to be held in a prison with a reduced level of security, as opposed to a high-security facility like Belmarsh in south-east London.

Mr. Khalife was denied bail and was being held at HMP Wandsworth, a category B facility, when he appeared in court via video connection in July.

He has engaged in two rounds of discussions with officials from the Prison and Probation Service and the governor of HMP Wandsworth to inquire as to why Mr. Khalife was not being confined in a high-security prison and whether the proper protocols were followed after the alarm was raised.

Mr. Khalife was in remand at the time of his escape, awaiting a trial scheduled to commence on 13 November at Woolwich Crown Court.

The Ministry of Defense has verified that he was expelled from the military earlier this year, despite not having been found guilty.

In recent years, prison escapes have been uncommon, with only five since 2017 and fewer than twenty since 2010.

In the hours following Mr. Khalife's escape, the prison was placed on isolation, but these restrictions have since been lifted.