British authorities on Wednesday issued an all-ports alert to track down a former soldier awaiting trial on terrorism charges, after he escaped from jail by clinging to the bottom of a delivery van.
Daniel Abed Khalife, 21, was reported to have been working in the kitchen of Wandsworth prison and wearing a chef’s uniform of a white T-shirt and red and white chequered trousers when he absconded.
The Metropolitan Police said ports and airports had been put on high alert after his disappearance from the south London jail at about 7.50am.
He was likely to still be in the London area, although they did not rule out he had travelled outside the British capital, the force added.
The public was warned not to approach him but to call police immediately.
“We have no information which indicates, nor any reason to believe that Khalife poses a threat to the wider public,” said Dominic Murphy, the head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command.
Khalife appeared in court in London on January 28 and was remanded in custody over two incidents at the Royal Air Force (RAF) base in Stafford, central England, near the army barracks where he lived.
Khalife 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 had been set to begin on November 13 at Woolwich Crown Court in south London.
The Prison Service said it was working with police to recapture Khalife and was “urgently investigating how he escaped”.
Justice Secretary Alex Chalk will also speak to the governor of the Category B prison, the second highest level of security.
One of Wandsworth’s most famous recent inmates was tennis superstar Boris Becker, who was jailed for flouting insolvency rules. He was released and deported to Germany last year. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is believed to have been taken to Wandsworth after his 2019 conviction for breaching bail conditions.
Previous high-profile prison escapes include one of the so-called Great Train Robbers, Ronnie Biggs, who scaled the wall of Wandsworth prison using a rope ladder and escaped in a removals van.
His disappearance in 1965, just 19 months into a 30-year sentence for his part in the robbery of a mail train two years earlier, saw him spend 36 years on the run. He voluntarily returned to Britain from Brazil in 2001 and was released in 2009 on compassionate grounds.
Former British spy George Blake escaped from Wormwood Scrubs prison in west London in 1966, again using a rope ladder. He fled to the Soviet Union, where he died in 2020.
In 1983, 38 members of the Irish Republic Army escaped from the maximum security Maze prison in Northern Ireland after taking several guards hostage. Most were later captured or tracked down.
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