Daniel Abed Khalife: Police in search of terror suspect escapee in Richmond Park, London.

Daniel Abed Khalife: Police in search of terror suspect escapee in Richmond Park, London.

Police Launch Urgent Search for Escaped Terror Suspect Daniel Khalife

Authorities are conducting an urgent search in Richmond Park, located in south-west London, in their efforts to locate terror suspect Daniel Khalife, who escaped from prison on Wednesday.

Park Sealed, Helicopters Deployed in Search Operation

All entrances and exits to the expansive 5,000-acre Richmond Park were reportedly sealed overnight and into Friday. Two helicopters were spotted circling the area as part of the search operation.

Links to Kingston and HMP Wandsworth

Daniel Khalife has known links to Kingston, situated less than a mile south of Richmond Park. Significantly, Richmond Park is also located less than three miles west of HMP Wandsworth, the prison from which Khalife escaped. Scotland Yard has confirmed that the police activity in Richmond Park is directly related to the search for Khalife.

Former Soldier Accused of Espionage

Khalife, a former soldier, is accused of gathering information for Iran, as reported in various sources. He went missing from HMP Wandsworth while wearing his cook’s uniform, prompting heightened security checks at major transport hubs across the UK.

Escape via Underside of a Delivery Vehicle

A crucial aspect of Khalife’s escape was the discovery of strapping on the underside of a Bidfood delivery vehicle. Police had stopped this vehicle just over an hour after it left HMP Wandsworth, suggesting that Khalife clung to the vehicle’s underside to effect his escape.

Nationwide Search Underway

Authorities have initiated a nationwide search for Khalife, but they have not ruled out the possibility that he may have left the country. The Metropolitan Police’s counter-terrorism commander, Dominic Murphy, emphasized Khalife’s apparent ingenuity in avoiding confirmed sightings since his escape.

Escalating Legal Troubles

In addition to his escape, Khalife faces escalating legal troubles in his criminal case. Prosecutors have indicated their intent to seek an indictment in his tax and firearms case by September 29, potentially leading to a trial. This development comes after a proposed plea deal, which would have resolved the charges, fell apart.

Questions Over Prison Categorization and Staffing

Khalife’s escape has raised questions about prison categorization and staffing levels at HMP Wandsworth, where he was held. An independent investigation into the matter has been confirmed by Justice Secretary Alex Chalk. Two urgent reviews will also examine the categorization and placement of all HMP Wandsworth prisoners and individuals in custody charged with terrorism-related offenses.

Wandsworth Prison Under Scrutiny

Wandsworth prison’s performance had previously been flagged as a “serious concern,” and watchdogs had issued multiple warnings about the facility in the past year before Khalife’s escape. The Chief Inspector of Prisons, Charlie Taylor, expressed concerns about staffing shortages as a root cause of problems at the prison.

Calls for Closure of Wandsworth

Taylor went further, suggesting that in an ideal scenario, Wandsworth prison should be closed, given its unsuitability. He noted that while prisons are essential to serve the courts, there is currently a crisis in prison capacity, with only just enough spaces available for incoming prisoners.

Debate Over Khalife’s Placement

Some experts, such as former HMP governor John Podmore, argue that Khalife should have been held at maximum-security Belmarsh prison, which is often used for terrorist prisoners and those accused of such offenses. Khalife was charged but not convicted of offenses related to planting a fake bomb at an RAF base and gathering information for potentially nefarious purposes.

Public Reaction and Past Interactions with Khalife

Former inmates who worked alongside Khalife in HMP Wandsworth’s kitchens shared their views on his escape. Some described him as “odd,” with one former inmate recalling Khalife saying he was “going to be famous.” Public reactions to the escape have varied, with some expressing surprise and others suggesting that security staff at the prison should have been more vigilant.

Ongoing Search and Safety Precautions

Police have urged the public not to approach Khalife if spotted but to call 999 immediately. The search for Khalife extends beyond London, as he has links to the West Midlands and Kingston. The investigation is currently covering the entire UK. Despite various leads, a man stopped at Banbury train station in Oxfordshire on Thursday was confirmed not to be Khalife.

TDPel Media

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