British police find and arrest Daniel Khalife, fugitive terror suspect


LONDON — A terrorism suspect whose sensational escape from a London prison launched a four-day nationwide manhunt was found and arrested, the Metropolitan Police said.

Daniel Abed Khalife, the most wanted man in Britain, was arrested just before 11 a.m. on Saturday in an area of west London.

The details seemed like something out of a prison break film. Khalife, 21, a former British soldier, was in jail awaiting trial on charges of breaking the Official Secrets Act and terrorism-related offenses. He slipped out of London’s Wandsworth prison early Wednesday morning. Police said they believed he escaped by clinging to the bottom of a food delivery van.

Prison breaks are very rare in the United Kingdom — only 10 inmates have broken out of prison in the past five years — and his escape kicked off a nationwide manhunt, which included enhanced checks at ports and airports. Police offered a £20,000 ($25,000) reward for information that led to his arrest. Officers also scoured Richmond Park in southwest London, one of London’s largest green spaces, famous for its deer.

On Saturday, police intensified their search in the Chiswick area of west London following “confirmed sightings in that area overnight, including calls from members of the public.” They said he had changed out of the clothes he escaped with — a prison-issued chef’s uniform — and was wearing a black baseball cap, black T-shirt and dark pants.

Chiswick is about six miles from the prison. He would have had to cross the River Thames to get there.

Speaking to reporters at the Group of 20 summit in New Delhi, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that he was “very pleased with the news” and thanked the public who came forward with “an enormous number of leads.”

London police assessed that his escape was preplanned and said they were investigating whether it was an inside job involving prison staff.

Metropolitan Police chief Mark Rowley said police were asking: “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?”

British police hunt for prison escapee facing trial over ‘bomb hoax’

Khalife was described by officers as “very resourceful.” When police searched the food delivery van — 47 minutes after Khalife was declared missing — they said they found straps on the underside of the van. It’s unclear how he was able to source the straps.

Prison escapes are hard to pull off. How did these fugitives do it?

He has been awaiting trial on accusations of leaving fake bombs at Royal Air Force Stafford, the military base in England where he was stationed. He was also charged with trying to elicit information about another member of the British armed forces that could be used in preparing an act of terrorism. And he was accused of trying to spy for a hostile state. The BBC said that this was Iran.

Wandsworth prison is a dystopian-looking facility in southwest London. It is one of only nine jails out of 119 in England and Wales that was rated a “serious concern” in an annual report by the Ministry of Justice. That is the lowest score possible for overall performance.


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