In a dramatic turn of events, Daniel Abed Khalife, a 21-year-old former soldier who had escaped from HMP Wandsworth, is now facing charges. Khalife, who was on the run for four days, was apprehended in the Northolt suburb of north-west London on Saturday.
Khalife is set to appear in custody at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Monday, September 11, where he will be formally charged. The charges against him stem from his escape on September 6, 2023, from Her Majesty’s prison at Wandsworth. He had been remanded in custody pending trial, as ordered by the Central Criminal Court on July 21, 2023.
Khalife’s capture took place following an intensive policing operation led by officers from the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command. After a widespread land and air search, aided by the security services, Khalife was taken into custody at 10:41 AM on Saturday. A plain-clothed counter-terrorism officer pulled him off a push bike on a canal towpath near Rowdell Road, Northolt.
During the arrest, Khalife was described as being “fully co-operative,” with some reports suggesting he was even “laughing” as he was apprehended.
Despite the £20,000 reward offered for information leading to Khalife’s capture, police have not yet received a claim for the reward.
Detectives believe Khalife executed his escape by concealing himself beneath a delivery lorry after leaving the prison kitchen, dressed in a cook’s uniform.
Following Khalife’s escape, approximately 40 inmates from HMP Wandsworth have been relocated to other facilities. Justice Secretary Alex Chalk stated that initial findings from his investigation into the prison indicated that proper procedures and security staff were in place. However, questions remain as to why a former soldier accused of a terror offense was not incarcerated in a higher security prison.
Mr. Chalk emphasized that the prisoner relocations were a precautionary measure while investigations into the incident continue.
Mr. Chalk confirmed that protocols related to unloading food from a van and searching delivery vehicles were in place at Wandsworth prison. However, whether these protocols were followed remains to be established.
He also announced plans for a separate independent investigation, the terms of which will be outlined in the coming week to ensure the conclusions are thorough and reliable.
Prison Conditions Debate
Amid the discussion surrounding Khalife’s escape, Justice Secretary Alex Chalk acknowledged recent investments in the prison system. Critics have argued that the Conservative party’s austerity measures have negatively impacted the condition of the UK’s prisons.
Calls to Close Wandsworth
Chief Inspector of Prisons Charlie Taylor has voiced concerns over HMP Wandsworth, which was established in 1851, suggesting that it should be closed. The prison has received a “serious concern” rating in official annual reports dating back to 2016/17.
Commander Dominic Murphy, the head of the Met’s counter-terrorism unit, reported that the investigation gathered momentum after receiving calls from the public. These calls led to an intelligence-led search in the Richmond area, eventually resulting in Khalife’s capture.
Daniel Abed Khalife was awaiting trial for allegedly planting a fake bomb at an RAF base and collecting information that could have been useful to terrorists or enemies of the UK.