- The former British Army soldier escaped from HMP Wandsworth on Wednesday
- Police have confirmed they caught the terror suspect around 11am in Chiswick
- Did you see the arrest? Contact email@example.com with info
Met police have arrested terror suspect and fugitive Daniel Khalife, who escaped from Wandsworth Prison on Wednesday.
Officers caught the former British Army soldier just before 11:00am today in the Chiswick area, and he is currently in police custody, the Met said in a statement.
They thanked the public for their cooperation and said they would provide further updates on the arrest ‘in due course’.
Police in Chiswick had been searching car boots and asking residents for IDs this morning as they widened their search for Khalife.
Dog units, armed officers and a police boat were also on standby to support intensive searches today.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said this morning he was ‘very pleased’ Khalife had been arrested, as he praised efforts by the police and the public in finding him.
Police in Chiswick surround Fullers Brewery in Chiswick, West London, after an early morning search for terror suspect Daniel Khalife, who was arrested around 11am today
A police helicopter patrols areas near Richmond Park in London on 8 September 2023 after Khalife (who was on remand for terror offences) escaped from Wandsworth Prison
Daniel Abed Khalife, 21, a former soldier suspected of terror offences who escaped from prison on Wednesday morning
Police shared a statement and tweeted the news that Khalife had been arrested this morning
Pictured: the police helicopter route over west London on Friday night
Upon news of the arrest, Rishi Sunak told reporters today: ‘I’m very pleased with the news and my thanks to police officers for their fantastic work over the last couple of days, but also to the public who came forward with an enormous number of leads to help police with their inquiries.
‘It’s good news that we captured the person concerned. As people already know, the Justice Secretary has initiated an inquiry into the circumstances of his escape and that work will continue.
‘This is obviously very welcome news and again my thanks to the police but also to the public for their help.’
Former soldier Khalife, 21, who is alleged to have spied for Iran, escaped from Wandsworth Prison in a delivery van on Wednesday morning.
Khalife was being held in prison ahead of trial on offences relating to terrorism and the Official Secrets Act.
Khalife escaped Wandsworth Prison by strapping himself to the bottom of a delivery lorry, having fashioned straps out of the plastic covering on his cell mattress, after leaving the prison kitchen in a cook’s uniform.
He was declared missing at 7.50am on Wednesday, and the Met was notified 25 minutes later.
At 8.37, police officers stopped the van in Upper Richmond Road, near the junction with Carlton Drive.
Officers spoke to the driver and carried out a thorough search – but Khalife had disappeared.
CCTV shows the van after it left the prison but detectives believe Khalife had already made off by the time the footage was captured.
The Met offered a reward of up to £20,000 for information that helped lead to the arrest of Daniel Abed Khalife, as the search widened and detectives confirmed a sighting of him near Wandsworth Roundabout.
He was seen walking away from a BidFood van that stopped near the south entrance to the roundabout at the top of Trinity Road shortly after his escape on Wednesday.
Khalife was then seen walking towards Wandsworth town centre.
Police stressed there was no suspicion about Bidfood or its driver, and said they had been co-operating fully.
The force gave details of the route the van took after it left Wandsworth Prison, based on GPS data detectives had obtained from the vehicle.
After reaching Wandsworth Roundabout, the van turned onto Swandon Way and the van remained on the road until turning onto Fairfield Street.
Police with K9 units pictured in Chiswick, West London, this morning amid the search for Daniel Khalife
Police in the Chiswick area in west London as the hunt for terror suspect Daniel Khalife enters its fourth day, on Saturday 9
Daniel Khalife (pictured), a former soldier in the 22 Signal Regiment, was on remand at HMP Wandsworth ahead of his six-week terror trial
The Met Police admitted that Khalife’s ‘previous military experience’ may make him harder to catch, as he is likely ‘more aware of efforts to apprehend him’
Khalife was wearing a chef’s uniform of Wandsworth prison similar to the one pictured at the time of his escape
Clothes similar to the ones Daniel Khalife was wearing as he made his escape
Khalife was wearing the above type of prison-issued shoes at the time of his escape
Khalife escaped in this grocery lorry by strapping himself to its underside (caught on CCTV after his escape)
A police helicopter patrols surrounding areas near Richmond Park on Friday as the search for Khalife continues
In total, more than 150 of the Met’s counter terrorism officers and staff were working at pace around the clock to try and find Khalife.
On Friday, police helicopters were seen circling areas around Grove Park, Chiswick and Richmond Park, before today’s search narrowed to the Chiswick area.
The Met also opened its UK Image Appeal website which allows people to submit any relevant imagery and video directly to the investigation team.
This could be CCTV, doorbell footage, mobile phone footage, or dash-cam footage.
Commander Dominic Murphy, who leads the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, said previously that they had ‘received more than 100 calls from the public, and we thank everyone who has contacted us with information.’
A shop assistant also came forward to report seeing ‘a tall, lanky dude with dark hair’, who he later claimed to recognise as Khalife from media images, enter a black coloured vehicle outside Wandsworth County Court – but police did not confirm whether this sighting was of interest.
The witness, who was working at The Market – Putney Newsagents on Wednesday morning, heard a commotion outside the store, before seeing the man sprint across the street and get into a car on the other side of the road by traffic lights.
His manager told the Telegraph: ‘There was lots of beeping by cars and people were annoyed.
‘My friend, one of the workers at the shop, was in the shop on that morning, at around 7.30, and he went outside where he saw a man running into a black car. The man was some tall lanky dude with dark hair and there was a Bidfood van.
‘My friend didn’t see him getting out of the van but he saw him sprint across the street to the traffic lights.’
A nationwide alert put out on Wednesday led to tightened security at ports and borders.
The force assessed that Khalife ‘does not pose a threat to the wider public’ but advised people not to approach him, before his arrest on Saturday.
A national manhunt was launched for Daniel Abded Khalife, a former soldier suspected of terror offences
Khalife escaped on September 6 from HM Prison Wandsworth. A member of the public is said to have seen Khalife crawl out from a lorry at Wandsworth roundabout and run down the street
The story raised concerns over how Khalife was able to escape the Category B prison. Labour MP Charlotte Nichols said ‘serious questions remain’ around overcrowing and underfunding in a post this morning, upon news of his arrest
Questions continue to grow over how the suspected terrorist, who is alleged to have spied for Iran, was able to flee the Category B prison, where there have long been concerns over security.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has said there were questions about the ‘link between government austerity and this man escaping.’
He said: ‘There’s a question in relation to the medium and long term about the link between government austerity and this man escaping.
‘I know from my own experience, as the member of parliament previously for Tooting where Wandsworth prison is, (there are) big problems in relation to it being overcrowded and being a Victorian prison, lack of investment, lack of enough staff and those questions will need answering from the Government.’
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper wrote on social media today: ‘Thank you to all the police & intelligence teams involved in the search and arrest of Daniel Khalife – very welcome news he has now been caught.
‘Now we need answers about how on earth a prisoner charged with terror & national security offences could have escaped in this way.’
Labour MP Charlotte Nichols wrote on Twitter this afternoon: ‘Very welcome news that Daniel Khalife is back in custody.
‘Beyond this case however, serious questions remain about the levels of overcrowding and understaffing on the prisons estate which go far beyond just HMP Wandsworth.’
Chief Inspector of Prisons Charlie Taylor said staff shortages at Wandsworth are ‘the source of many problems’ and that ‘in an ideal world’ the jail would be shut.
The prison’s performance has been rated a ‘serious concern’ and watchdogs issued a string of warnings about the jail in the year before the incident.
An inmate who worked with Khalife in the jail kitchen revealed how they used to joke about jumping in a delivery lorry and driving off.
And another former prisoner revealed how staff were so overstretched they even asked him to help lead the roll call of inmates on his wing.
Meanwhile, a barrister and former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation said today it was ‘mind-boggling’ that Khalife was able to work in a kitchen with access to knives.
Jonathan Hall KC told Radio 4’s World at One programme Mr Khalife has been ‘charged with collecting information which might be useful to an enemy’ and that he should have been held in a higher security prison.
‘I would have thought someone charged with espionage should be held more securely…just based on what the authorities knew’
‘They knew he was charged with an offence under the Official Secrets Act, that’s a very serious offence… one would have thought that you would look at the advanced capabilities that might come with working for or having relations with a hostile state’ he said.
Mr Hall also warned against legislation to make all of those accused of terrorism to be placed in a category A prison.
‘I’d be worried if there was a reaction which said now every person suspected of terrorism should be categorised as a high escape risk’.
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