A star athlete and class joker who ‘changed’ after fulfilling his dream of joining the Army: How Daniel Khalife was the most unlikely candidate for Britain’s Most Wanted list

  • Post category:news
  • Reading time:4 min(s) read

  • Khalife has a twin sister and was born in London to middle-class parents
  • He has been described as the ‘class joker’ with a ‘strong sense of social justice’ 

Nothing about Daniel Khalife struck those who knew him as particularly unusual. 

Which is why the 21-year-old’s short-lived status as Britain’s most wanted man caused such amazement.

Epithets frequently applied to terror suspects include ‘loner’ and ‘oddball’. Yet his peers insist Khalife was neither. Rather, said one, he was ‘well-adjusted, with a strong sense of social justice’. And he ‘treated the elderly with respect and looked out for younger kids’.

Sure, he locked himself away for long periods in his room playing the video games Fortnite and Call Of Duty. ‘But didn’t most of us?’ said an acquaintance. ‘He could be a bit self-satisfied and cocky at times but lots of teenagers are like that’.

Khalife, who has a twin sister, was born in London to middle-class parents, an Iranian mother and Lebanese father, who separated when the twins were young. 

Nothing about Daniel Khalife struck those who knew him as particularly unusual

Nothing about Daniel Khalife struck those who knew him as particularly unusual

Khalife, who has a twin sister, was born in London to middle-class parents, an Iranian mother and Lebanese father, who separated when the twins were young

Khalife, who has a twin sister, was born in London to middle-class parents, an Iranian mother and Lebanese father, who separated when the twins were young

Both then lived with their mother in a flat close to Richmond Park in Kingston-upon-Thames and attended Teddington School, a well regarded comprehensive. Daniel excelled at the 100m, earning him the nickname Bolt after Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt.

While not as academically blessed as his sister, Khalife was ‘very intelligent’ said a relative, though his GCSE grades were disappointing. ‘He was a bit of a class joker,’ said someone who knew him from this time. ‘But not a troublemaker. He was polite and respectful. I wouldn’t say he was massively popular, just normal. He had friends.’

Another said: ‘He just sort of got on with it like most of us did.

‘He had social skills. He wasn’t particularly socially withdrawn or anything.’

READ MORE: Terror suspect Daniel Khalife yelled ‘It’s not me!’ as gun-toting plain-clothes police officer yanked him off bike 

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The acquaintance said that since the prison break ‘everyone’s just had the same reaction’ – shock – adding: ‘It was just mind-blowing. It wasn’t expected at all.”

To his mother’s dismay, Khalife decided to leave school at 16 and join the Army rather than study A-levels. A close relative suggested this was a factor in his downfall, saying military life changed him.

Initially, though, he was diligent and jovial.

Khalife, a skilled computer specialist, was posted to 22 Signal Regiment at Beacon Barracks, the base for the 1st Signal Brigade near Stafford. His regiment provides soldiers for Nato Allied Rapid Reaction Corps.

Shortly after joining at 17, Khalife is said to have started gathering information that ‘could be useful to an enemy’ between May 2019 and January 2022, culminating in him allegedly breaching the Official Secrets Act by committing ‘an act prejudicial to the safety or interests’ of Britain.

Daniel Khalife, who was caught by police this morning after escaping from HMP Wandsworth

Daniel Khalife, who was caught by police this morning after escaping from HMP Wandsworth

The high-security measures inside Belmarsh Prison - Khalife's next home and a jail no one has ever escaped from

The high-security measures inside Belmarsh Prison – Khalife’s next home and a jail no one has ever escaped from

Counter-terrorism detectives began a lengthy investigation.

Khalife is said to have gone AWOL after allegedly planting fake bombs at the barracks on January 2 this year. Officers finally caught up with him on January 26 when he was held on suspicion of terrorism.

‘He has been in the Army for four years,’ the relative told The Times. ‘I don’t know what they have done to him… Two years ago he was quite happy, he said he never wanted to leave, he said they were good people and then something happened last year. He was scared to talk about it and so he ran away.

‘I don’t believe the allegations. He spent four years in the Army, it is just silly to imagine he would betray them.’

The relative added that Khalife’s family were secular Iranians opposed to the present hardline regime, although they did not campaign against it.

Khalife has visited Iran twice, taken by his mother to see his family when he was a baby and again when he was aged six or seven.

‘Danny doesn’t know Iran, he loves this country,’ said the close relative.




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