What has happened to Clapham chemical attack suspect Abdul Ezedi? All the theories as manhunt hits sixth day

5 February 2024, 15:05

Chemical attack suspect Abdul Ezedi has gone to ground, with several theories emerging about where he is
Chemical attack suspect Abdul Ezedi has gone to ground, with several theories emerging about where he is. Picture: Alamy/Getty

By Kit Heren

Police are still searching for Abdul Ezedi, the Clapham chemical attack suspect, nearly six days on from the assault in south London.

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Ezedi is suspected of throwing a corrosive substance over a woman and her two daughters near Clapham Common on Wednesday night, giving them life-changing injuries, and hurting several other people who came to their aid.

The Afghan asylum seeker, who lives in Newcastle and was convicted of a sexual offence in 2018, made off from the scene with significant injuries to his face.

Police have offered a £20,000 reward for anyone who gives officers information that leads to Ezedi's arrest.

As the police continue to hunt for Ezedi, several theories have emerged on what has happened to him.

Read more: Clapham chemical attack: How it unfolded and what we know so far

Read more: Chemical attacks happening 'almost weekly', Newcastle doctors warn amid manhunt for Clapham attack suspect

A manhunt began Friday to trace Abdul Shokoor Ezedi. He is wanted in connection with a corrosive substance attack in Clapham
A manhunt began Friday to trace Abdul Shokoor Ezedi. He is wanted in connection with a corrosive substance attack in Clapham. Picture: Alamy

Ezedi is being sheltered by friends and family

Friends and relatives could be helping Ezedi evade the police, a former Met police detective told LBC News.

Peter Kirkham, a former detective chief inspector with the force, said "it doesn't appear to be that this is a planned escape."

"He would appear to have been intending to drive away from the scene, rather than be on tubes and buses and such like, but he had the collision with his vehicle".

Another former senior police detective said officers would have made an 'offender profile' of Ezedi to work out who he could contact for help.

Mick Gradwell, a former detective chief inspector with Lancashire Police, told the i: "Detectives will speak to any friends and family he has got and firstly see if they will help them. But if they won’t, they will perhaps use covert means to try to find out if they are helping him. If he has no money on him, he’s going to need help from somebody.

Handout CCTV image dated 31/01/24 issued by the Metropolitan Police of Abdul Ezedi, the suspect in the Clapham alkaline substance attack, at a Tesco on Caledonian Road
Handout CCTV image dated 31/01/24 issued by the Metropolitan Police of Abdul Ezedi, the suspect in the Clapham alkaline substance attack, at a Tesco on Caledonian Road. Picture: Alamy

"An offender profile of a person will examine the full detail of who they are, who they know, where they went to school, where did they go on holiday and things like do they have connections to people with AirBnBs.

"People are fairly consistent in the way they behave, so you would focus on your best bets.

"You need to look at all the possibilities of what he could do and where he would go and work through them methodically as to the best way to trace him."

Another possibility is that he is being sheltered by gangs.

The National Crime Agency (NCA), whose detectives have been drafted in to help track down the suspect, are concerned that organised crime groups may have helped him avoid police, the Sunday Times reported.

Police release CCTV of Clapham attack suspect

Ezedi has fled the country

Authorities fear that Ezedi may have snuck out of the UK after the attack.

Mr Kirkham, the former Met detective, said Ezedi escaping the country was a possibility, but less likely than going for shelter with friends or family.

Former Northumbria Police chief constable Sue Sims, who led the search for Raoul Moat in 2010, said that it was possible Ezedi may have fled the country, but he probably could not have done so via legal routes.

Mr Gradwell, the ex-Lancashire Police detective, said: "There are many cases that I know of where people have successfully left the country. This can be through being hidden in the boots of cars or by sneaking out by hiding in the back of a van that they know is leaving the country.

“It is not an unusual thing, even for someone without connections, to manage to leave. The difficulty for this man is that he is seriously injured and he knows he will be at risk of being found.

“With the police having given his photo to all the media, it will make it harder for him to leave the country."

Handout CCTV image dated 31/01/24 issued by the Metropolitan Police of Abdul Ezedi, the suspect in the Clapham alkaline substance attack, at King's Cross underground station
Handout CCTV image dated 31/01/24 issued by the Metropolitan Police of Abdul Ezedi, the suspect in the Clapham alkaline substance attack, at King's Cross underground station. Picture: Alamy

Ezedi has died

Ezedi may already have died, some former senior police officers believe.

Nick Aldworth, an ex-national counter-terrorism co-ordinator said it was "not unlikely or improbable that he may have taken his own life".

"I think if we've not seen or heard from him in the the last couple of days, which appears to be the case, he's gone to ground, possibly supported by somebody... or it's not unlikely or improbable that he may have taken his own life," he told the BBC.

"There is therefore a body to be found somewhere."

Tracking expert explains how Abdul Ezedi may be evading capture by police

Ezedi has evaded police by covering his face

Another theory is that Ezedi has managed to avoid being captured by covering up his face.

Mel Thomas, from the TV show Hunted, and a former police officer of nearly 30 years, suggested that Ezedi could "even be walking around with a full face veil".

He told LBC's Nick Ferrari: "Think back to three years ago - we were walking around with face coverings on, people walking around covering their faces.

"So now it's not something uncommon for people to be walking round with a face covering, with a hoodie on.

"You know, that person could be hiding themselves completely, could even be walking around with a full face veil.

"So it is very difficult for the authorities to catch individuals who want to stay under the radar. But hopefully, we will get that breakthrough and we will apprehend that individual."

A car is seen behind police cordon after a corrosive substance attack in south London on February 1, 2024.
A car is seen behind police cordon after a corrosive substance attack in south London on February 1, 2024. Picture: Getty

Ezedi is living rough

Ezedi could have broken into someone's shed or an abandoned building to avoid the police.

Mr Gradwell said: "If he’s that desperate, he may have broken into a place that is uninhabited or may be living in someone’s garage or shed.

"But if you’ve got no hard cover, it’s very difficult to live out for more than a couple of days in something like a forest, even if you’ve got a tent as you still need things like food."

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