UK police arrest escaped terror suspect in London following nationwide manhunt

UK police arrest escaped terror suspect in London following nationwide manhunt

UK police on Saturday arrested suspect accused of “terror offences” who escaped from a London prison earlier this week, sparking a nationwide manhunt.

Issued on:

2 min

“Metropolitan Police officers have arrested Daniel Khalife. Officers apprehended him just before 11 am (1000 GMT) today in the Chiswick area, and he is currently in police custody,” the force said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, currently in India at the G20 summit, told UK media he was “very pleased with the news”. 

“My thanks to the police officers for their fantastic work over the past couple of days,” he added.

The 21-year-old former soldier fled from Wandsworth prison in south London on Wednesday morning, probably by clinging to the bottom of a delivery van.

His disappearance triggered a major hunt with extra security checks introduced at ports and airports amid fears he may try to flee the country.

But following confirmed sightings in south west London, he was eventually apprehended in the Chiswick neighbourhood on Saturday.

Hours before his arrest, police issued an appeal for members of the public to “remain vigilant”, saying that Khalife was believed to be wearing a black baseball cap, black T-shirt and dark-coloured bottoms, while carrying a small bag or case.

Met Police Commander Dominic Murphy told reporters: “It’s been about 75 hours since he went missing from the prison to the point of his arrest. That’s pretty quick given the challenge of trying to find this individual.

“In terms of the investigation, it… really took a different course last night, when we did an intelligence-led search in the Richmond area.

“While we were at that search, we had a number of calls from the public over the next hour or two, giving us various sightings of him,” he added.

Inside job? 

Khalife last appeared in court in London on January 28 and was remanded in custody over two incidents at the Royal Air Force base in Stafford, central England, near the army barracks where he lived.

He is accused of “attempting to elicit information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism” in August 2021. 

He was also charged with a bomb hoax by placing a suspect device at the RAF base on January 2 this year.

His trial at Woolwich Crown Court – attached to Belmarsh prison – had been set to begin on November 13.

Khalife was reported to have been working in the prison kitchen when he absconded.

Justice Secretary Alex Chalk said earlier this week that strapping was found underneath the delivery van which appeared to indicate that Khalife may have held onto the underside of it in order to escape. 

Chalk also announced an independent investigation into the escape and also ordered urgent reviews into the categorisation and placement of everyone held at Wandsworth prison and all those in custody for terror offences.

The minister said Saturday that he will leave “no stone unturned” in the investigations.

Wandsworth, which opened in 1851, is a Category B prison – the second highest security level. Terror suspects and prisoners are routinely held in maximum security Category A facilities.

John Podmore, a former governor at two prisons in London, told the BBC that the escape could have been an inside job, and that he should have been held at nearby Category A Belmarsh prison instead.

“It’s much more suited to the levels of security that someone like this, charged but not convicted, needs. I can’t understand why he wasn’t at Belmarsh,” he added.