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Family of terror suspect Daniel Khalife urge him to hand himself in

Family of Britain’s most wanted man Daniel Khalife urge terror suspect to hand himself in as friend reveals he was ‘obsessed with the SAS and went on lone survival weekends’

  • The former British Army soldier escaped from HMP Wandsworth on Wednesday 
  • READ MORE: Daniel Abed Khalife prison escape LIVE 

The family of terror suspect Daniel Khalife have urged him to hand himself in as a former Army friend reveals he was ‘obsessed with the SAS and went on lone survival weekends’.

Former soldier Khalife, 21, who is alleged to have spied for Iran, escaped from Wandsworth Prison in a delivery van on Wednesday morning. The search for him remains a significant operation led by the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command. 

Khalife’s family have appealed for him to give himself up, with a relative telling The Times: ‘If I could talk to him, I would tell him to end this and give himself up, even though I understand he is afraid.’  

The relative, who asked not to be identified, said the family of Khalife are opposed to the present regime in Iran, and that the suspect has only visited the country twice in his life – as a baby and once aged six or seven.

A former friend and fellow ex-soldier, who trained with Khalife in Rhino Troop, 2 Squadron, told The Mirror the suspect ‘excelled’ at a survival course they had done and would often ‘disappear’ at the weekend with camping gear to spend the night out in the open.

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.’

Daniel Khalife (pictured), a former soldier in the 22 Signal Regiment, was on remand at HMP Wandsworth ahead of his six-week terror trial

Daniel Abed Khalife, who went missing from HMP Wandsworth on Wednesday, during a military exercise

The source added that Khalife ‘really thought he would get into the SAS’ and that ‘that was his dream.

‘He was always saying he was Middle Eastern and was even trying to learn Farsi from a language learning app,’ the source added.

Khalife’s relative was said to be tearful in an interview with The Times as they said: ‘Danny doesn’t know Iran, he loves this country.’

The relative said Khalife and his twin sister were brought up by their single mother in Kingston and that he chose not to go to sixth-form, instead enlisting in the army. 

‘The army has to answer for what happened,’ the relative said. ‘He has been in the army for four years, since 2019. I don’t know what they have done to him.’

More than 150 of the Met’s counter terrorism officers and staff are working at pace around the clock to try and find Khalife. 

The Met is offering a reward of up to £20,000 for information that leads to the arrest of Daniel Abed Khalife, as detectives confirmed a sighting of him near Wandsworth Roundabout. 

CCTV shows the van after it left the prison but detectives believe Khalife had already made off by the time the footage was captured. 

Elsewhere, officers received a tip-off from a member of the public who said they saw a man fitting Khalife’s description walking away from a BidFood van that stopped near the south entrance to the Wandsworth Roundabout, at the top of Trinity Road, shortly after his escape. 

The man was then seen walking towards Wandsworth town centre.

Khalife escaped the Victorian jail by strapping himself to the bottom of a delivery lorry after leaving the prison kitchen in a cook’s uniform.

A witness claims he saw Khalife (pictured) jump in a getaway car two miles from the prison

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 escaped in this grocery lorry by strapping himself to its underside (caught on CCTV after his escape)

It has been determined that the van took the following route upon leaving Wandsworth Prison. After reaching Wandsworth Roundabout, the van turned onto Swandon Way and the van remained on the road until turning onto Fairfield Street

A police helicopter patrols surrounding areas near Richmond Park today as the search for Khalife continues

Police have urged the public not to approach Khalife but to call 999 if they see him (pictured: A police helicopter above Richmond Park today)

Met detectives say they ‘remain open-minded’ about Khalife’s location but are concentrating their search on the capital. The UK’s other police forces have been alerted as well as all ports

Khalife was wearing the above type of prison-issued shoes at the time of his escape

Elsewhere, a shop assistant also reported 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 have not confirmed whether this sighting is of interest.

READ MORE: Fugitive ‘Iranian spy’ Daniel Khalife: The class joker at Keira Knightley’s school who loved YouTubers and dreamed of being a cyberwarrior – and boasted to fellow prisoners that he was ‘going to be famous’

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.’

The Met Police has 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: ‘This remains a fast-paced and dynamic investigation, but I want the public to know that a large number of officers are working extremely hard to locate Khalife.

‘We have now received more than 100 calls from the public, and we thank everyone who has contacted us with information.

‘The sighting near Wandsworth Roundabout could be very significant, and this is one of many useful lines of enquiry that officers are perusing.

‘We continue to urge the public to contact us straight away if they think they have seen Khalife or have information on his whereabouts.

‘We will continue to work closely with all our colleagues in police services across the country and other partners to trace Khalife and bring him back into custody.’

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 – it is the only sighting police have yet received

Officers continue to focus investigative efforts in London. This included search activity at Richmond Park overnight into the early hours of Friday, 8 September.

A nationwide alert put out on Wednesday has led to tightened security at ports and borders. 

The force has assessed that Khalife ‘does not pose a threat to the wider public’ but advises the public not to approach him and call 999 immediately. 

Former soldier Khalife, 21, was declared missing at 7.50am on  Wednesday. The Met was notified at 8.15am and took immediate action to track down a delivery van that had left the prison.

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. Police discovered strapping on the underside of the van.

Detectives believe Khalife was hiding underneath the van and used this strapping as part of his escape.

The force previously gave details of the route the van which they believe Khalife escaped on took after it left Wandsworth Prison, based on GPS data detectives had obtained from the vehicle.

As a result of further CCTV enquiries, it has been determined that the van took the following route upon leaving Wandsworth Prison. After reaching Wandsworth Roundabout, the van turned onto Swandon Way and the van remained on the road until turning onto Fairfield Street.

Khalife, who served in 16 Signal Regiment, whose motto is Find A Way Or Make One, is thought to have clung to the underside of the truck by fashioning straps out of the plastic covering on his cell mattress. 

Sir Mark told LBC of the escape this morning: ‘It is clearly pre-planned, the fact that he could strap himself onto the bottom of the wagon.’ 

Police have blocked off the carriageway as the search continues for escaped prisoner Daniel Khalife

A police car is seen inside Richmond Park this morning as the hunt for Khalife continues

He added a prison escape is ‘unlikely to be something you do on the spur of the moment’.

READ MORE: Daniel Khalife ‘lookalike’ handcuffed on train platform was ‘treated to a seat in first class as an apology for the mix-up’ 

Asked if police are looking into whether it was an ‘inside job’, the commissioner said: ‘It is a question. Did anyone inside the prison help him? Other prisoners, guard staff? Was he helped by people outside the walls or was it simply all of his own creation?’

He called it ‘extremely concerning’ that Khalife is ‘on the loose’.

Asked whether he was surprised to learn that the terror suspect was in a Category B prison, Sir Mark said it did ‘seem odd’ on first inspection.

The commissioner said the hunt for Khalife is a ‘massive operation’ involving ‘well into three figures of officers’ as well as help from forces around the country and from the border force.

‘At the moment we are still really keen to get any reports from members of the public,’ he added.

It came as police chiefs involved in the Richmond Park search apologised to locals for the disruption.

The National Police Air Service tweeted: ‘To dispel some rumours that have been circulating. We were deployed to Richmond Park last night searching for escaped prisoner Daniel Khalife. 

‘Due to the size and complexity of the park this took a protracted period of time. Apologies for the noise.’

READ MORE: Who is Daniel Abed Khalife and what did he do as Metropolitan Police launch an urgent manhunt for the suspected terrorist who has escaped from HMP Wandsworth 

Meanwhile, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan 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.’

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.

It comes as pharmacies have been urged to keep a lookout following suggestions that the ex-British Army soldier may have suffered burns to his face during his escape.

Police patrol Richmond Park south-west London this morning following the escape of Daniel Khalife

The park was eerily quiet this morning as it reopened following a huge police search overnight

There were very few vehicles driving through Richmond Park after it reopened to the public this morning

A heavy police presence surrounding Richmond Park following the escape of Daniel Khalife

CCTV footage has shown the van which Daniel Khalife clung to in his audacious escape just 200 yards from prison, with no sign of the fugitive terror suspect underneath

Former Scotland Yard detective Peter Bleksley told Sky News: ‘Clinging to the bottom of a vehicle, if it’s got a petrol or diesel combustion engine, it is a pretty risky thing to do, not only because of course you can lose your grip and fall on a roadway, but exhaust systems, which generally speaking run the entire length of a vehicle like that, get incredibly hot.

‘The slightest touch of that exhaust system will leave you with a vey unpleasant burn.

READ MORE: I was an inmate with Daniel Khalife at HMP Wandsworth 

‘So I would suggest to anybody who works in a chemist or pharmacy or shops where medical supplies are sold – just keep your eyes out today if somebody comes in asking for advice on how to treat burns, and sourcing bandages… and the like.’

Elsewhere, CCTV footage today showed the van Khalife escaped under just 200 yards from the prison, with no sign of the suspect.

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.

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’.

Fresh CCTV footage today shows the Bidfood lorry which Khalife used for his escape driving down a residential street just 200 yards from the jail.

READ MORE: Police comb Richmond Park in hunt for fugitive terror suspect 

There is no sight of the fugitive in the images, suggesting that he may have leapt off the vehicle immediately after it left the prison gates.

Scotland Yard revealed last night there was 65 minutes between it leaving the prison and being stopped and searched by police, meaning a huge number of possible places where Khalife might have slipped away. 

As investigators worked to unravel how he managed to pull off a Colditz-style breakout in broad daylight, more details emerged of the audacious escape.

Khalife, who police suspect used his military training to carefully plan his escape, began Wednesday morning by helping to prepare breakfast at the Victorian jail.

He turned up for duty dressed in his chef’s uniform of a white T-shirt, distinctive red and white chequered trousers and brown steel-toe boots. 

How many other prisoners have escaped HMP Wandsworth and what is the jail like?

In 1965, Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs escaped with three others by scaling HMP Wandsworth’s 30-ft perimeter wall after they were allowed out to exercise.

Prison guards, obstructed by other inmates who were still exercising, watched on helplessly during the daring prison break.

Biggs went on to be a fugitive for 36 years, living in Australia and Brazil before flying back to the UK in 2001 and being put behind bars again.

In 2003, Eamon Donaghue ditched his prison clothes for a prison officer’s uniform he found while cleaning the officers’ mess hall. 

Fraudster Neil Moore was on remand in the Category B prison when he managed to get out in 2015 by posting a letter to wardens pretending it was from the court service. 

He told clueless wardens that he had been granted bail, and was free to walk out. 

He later had a ‘change of heart’ and surrendered himself after ‘three or four days.’

And most recently, in 2019, a prisoner was wrongly released by Wandsworth staff just six days into a six-week sentence. 

Wandsworth has seen at least six inmates break out over the years – including Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs

HMP Wandsworth, a Category B prison in southwest London, is one of the UK’s largest. 

It was built in 1851 as the ‘Surrey House of Correction.’

In 2022, its wardens were heavily criticised in a damning report that claimed the prison was plagued by overcrowding and violence. 

The report noted that prisoners were left in ‘very poor conditions’ surrounded by ‘piles of litter’ in ‘dirty, graffiti covered cells.’

Until as recently as 1996, inmates were forced to clean up their own excrement every morning in a process call ‘slopping out.’

Notable current and former inmates include:

  • German tennis star Boris Becker 
  • Boxer and artist Charles Bronson 
  • David Chaytor, the first MP to be convicted for his role in the parliamentary expenses scandal 
  • Drill artist Digga D
  • Paedophiles Gary Glitter and Rolf Harris
  • Wikileaks founder Julian Assange
  • Gangster Ronnie Kray 
  • Great Train Robbery culprit Ronnie Biggs 

After serving breakfast to inmates and guards, he slipped out of the kitchen carrying makeshift strapping of some kind, which police have declined to describe in more detail. 

In the yard outside the kitchen building, a lorry from the wholesaler Bidfood was making a routine delivery of groceries.

When no one was looking, Khalife ducked under the sidebars of the lorry and positioned himself precariously beneath the truck’s underbelly, using the strapping to support his weight.

At around 7.30am, with the driver blissfully unaware of the stowaway, the Bidfood lorry was driven 250 yards along the road running along the inside of the 30ft perimeter wall famously scaled by Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs in 1965. Two internal security gates had to be opened to let it pass.

At 7.32am, the lorry carrying the former Royal Signals soldier rolled through the prison’s imposing Victorian gate into the open. 

It was waved past guards and CCTV cameras with another cursory inspection, with no one thinking to check underneath at any of the three security checks.

As Khalife clung on, just inches from the wheels and the spinning drive shaft, the lorry turned right on to residential Heathfield Road, then left, then left again on to the busy triple-laned A214.

Police have stressed there is no suspicion about Bidfood or its driver, and said they had been co-operating fully.

Officers either do not know or have not said at what point Khalife decided to leave his escape vehicle, or what he did next. 

But the truck embarked on a near four-mile route through Wandsworth Town and on to the South Circular A205 road heading west towards Putney.

Khalife had an 18-minute head-start before anyone even noticed his absence. He was declared missing at 7.50am, and prison officers launched an urgent search, but it was a further 25 minutes before the police were called at 8.15am – by now a full 43 minutes after he had sprung himself.

Metropolitan Police cars descended on the area, while the lorry driver was called by his company and ordered to turn around and return to the prison.

On a busy high street close to East Putney station, officers swooped on the Bidfood truck at 8.37am outside a coffee shop.

A business owner who witnessed the operation told the Mail: ‘The police were searching inside the van, underneath it, on the roof, in the cab, everywhere. 

‘At first there was one unmarked, black police car, then a van and about five police cars. They were using two dogs to search it, one inside and one underneath.’ 

He said the search lasted for two hours.

Scotland Yard Commander Dominic Murphy said last night: ‘We searched it, but we found no trace of him. But we did find strapping that meant he had been underneath.’ 

Officers were keeping an open mind as to whether Khalife was helped by accomplices, but Mr Murphy cited the fugitive’s ‘ingenuity’ and said: ‘We have some of the best military in world and he was a trained soldier.’ 

He said police officers believed Khalife – a ‘very resourceful individual’ – would have needed to plan his escape, rather than it being opportunistic.

Police refused to confirm or deny if they had recovered potentially useful CCTV during their trawl, but said there had been no sightings by members of the public, despite it being ‘a busy area of London’. 

It prompted speculation as to whether the fugitive could have arranged to be picked up by an accomplice in another vehicle.

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