'Give yourself up': Family of escaped prisoner Daniel Khalife's heartfelt plea as huge manhunt continues

8 September 2023, 22:33

Former soldier Daniel Abed Khalife broke out of Wandsworth prison yesterday
Former soldier Daniel Abed Khalife broke out of Wandsworth prison yesterday. Picture: Sky News

By Kit Heren

A relative of escaped prisoner and alleged terrorist Daniel Abed Khalife has called for him to give himself up.

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The ex-soldier, who is accused of terror offences and spying, fled the Category B jail on Wednesday morning. LBC was told the escape could have been an inside job.

The Met has now offered £20,000 for information as they race to catch him, and detectives have received more than 100 calls. They have also released photos of the cook-style clothing he was wearing on his escape.

The relative described Khalife, 21, as a "very, very intelligent, easy going and kind boy" but said his character had changed in the past year.

"If I could talk to him, I would tell him to end this and give himself up, even though I understand he is afraid," they told the Times.

His mother's side of his family are secular Iranians, while his father was originally from Lebanon, the relative said.

“Danny doesn’t know Iran, he loves this country," they added, referring to the UK.

The relative said that Khalife would be unlikely to go to his family for help while on the run because "he would never want to cause us any problems. He loves us very much."

Khalife's parents broke up when he was a child, and he was brought up by his mother, along with his sister.

The relative added: "Some people need guidance. Danny needed someone to tell him and he didn’t have that. One single parent can’t do that, children need to be looked after."

They said what had caused the change in Khalife's character was a mystery, but that "something happened" last year.

"He has been in the army for four years, since 2019," the relative said. "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.

Khalife is accused of collecting information, notes and documents that would be "useful to the enemy", as well as planting hoax bombs.

A member of the public saw a man resembling him walk away from a van he is believed to have hung under to escape jail and walk towards Wandsworth town centre on Wednesday.

Commander Dominic Murphy, who heads up the Met's Counter Terrorism Command, said that the sighting of Khalife near Wandsworth Roundabout "could be very significant". He added that "this is one of many useful lines of enquiry that officers are [pursuing].

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

Officers focused on searching Richmond Park and are still concentrating their efforts in London.

They also released more details on the BidFood van Khalife is believed to have clung under to get out of HMP Wandsworth.

Detectives said they have now clarified the route it took, having released details on Thursday based on GPS data.

"After exiting Wandsworth Roundabout onto Swandon Road, the van remained on the road until turning left onto Fairfield Street," the Met said, releasing footage of the van passing Wandsworth Town Hall.

It was not immediately clear if this was related to the report by a newsagent in Putney, who earlier on Friday said he was a "tall, lanky dude with dark hair", who he later recognised as Khalife, get into a black vehicle outside Wandsworth County Court.

He was working as a shop assistant at The Market - Putney Newsagents early on Wednesday when he heard cars beeping and people shouting.

Police released this image of the clothes he would have been wearing
Police released this image of the clothes he would have been wearing. Picture: Metropolitan Police

The witness, who did not want to be named, told the Telegraph he saw the man run from the BidFood lorry he is believed to have hung underneath using strapping to escape the prison.

The car then headed east.

Read more: Police scour Richmond Park in hunt for escaped terror suspect amid fears ex-soldier is using army training to hide

Read more: Innocent man mistaken for terror suspect Daniel Khalife says ‘mistakes happen’ after being ‘questioned for 20 minutes’

Police stop van that Daniel Khalife is believed to have clung to the bottom of to escape prison

A colleague said: "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 Met spokesman said: “We are aware of news reports about a shop assistant who believes they saw Daniel Khalife. We are trying to identify this man so we can speak with him. We urge him to contact us by calling 999.”

Police have been inundated with dozens of reports but detectives are yet to confirm any sightings.

Read more: Hospitals on alert for patients with 'severe burns' as Met chief tells LBC terror suspect's escape could be 'inside job'

It comes after Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said police are investigating whether Khalife’s escape could have been an ‘inside job.’

Met chief Sir Mark told LBC that Khalife's escape from HMP Wandsworth was carefully planned ahead of time and not opportunistic, as officers scoured Richmond Park in London as part of efforts to find him.

Taking calls from LBC listeners, Sir Mark Rowley told Nick Ferrari that Khalife's escape was "clearly pre-planned".

"The fact he could strap himself onto the bottom of the wagon, there’s obviously some logistics involved.

"Just to work out a prison escape, and how you can do the logistics of it and get the right equipment, and how you’re going to do it, it’s unlikely to be something you do on the spur of the moment."

Terror suspect’s jailbreak was a pre-planned escape, says Commissioner doesn’t rule out ‘inside job'

Sir Mark refused to confirm what was used to make the straps Khalife used to cling onto the van, or whether notebooks were found in his cell.

On the possibility of an ‘inside job,’ Sir Mark said: “We’re going to look at everything. Did he do this on his own? Did anyone from inside the prison help him? It’s a question. Other prisoners? Corrupt guard staff? Was he helped by someone outside the walls? Was it simply all of his own creation?.

“It’s extremely concerning that he’s back on the loose. We need to get hold of him as quickly as possible.”

"Richmond Park is one of the areas that we’ve been looking. This is a massive operation, well into three figures of officers involved.

"At the moment we are still really keen to get any reports from members of the public.

"Have you seen this man? Don’t approach him yourself - we will follow up."

Police have been scouring Richmond Park in the hunt for the escaped terror suspect amid concerns that the ex-British soldier is using his army training to hide.

Sir Mark Rowley asked members of the public to come forward with information
Sir Mark Rowley asked members of the public to come forward with information. Picture: LBC

Sir Mark re-iterated that Khalife is ‘not an immediate threat’ to members of the public but added: "Have you seen this man? We’re really keen for reports from the public."

Officers were seen surrounding the park in the early hours of Friday as two helicopters circled overhead, attempting to track movement with heat-seeking cameras.

The Metropolitan Police's Counter Terrorism Command is trying to track him down, with more than 150 officers and staff involved in the manhunt.

A source close to the investigation told MailOnline: "If I was him I'd be hundreds of miles away from Wandsworth but we have to be certain he's not on our doorstep.

"The van he was in was a couple of miles from Richmond Park so it has to be searched – and from the air is the easiest way.

"Officers will be at the site overnight but I expect the park to open as usual in the morning, which is a sign they haven't found what they were looking for."

A photo of the van was released as detectives asked for anyone who saw it on Wednesday morning to come forward.

The Met released this image of the delivery van
The Met released this image of the delivery van. Picture: Metropolitan Police

Questions have since been asked as to how he got out of the prison when inmates are supposed to be under near-constant surveillance.

Speaking in an update on Thursday afternoon, the Met's Counter Terrorism Command boss Dominic Murphy said: "I think that's testament to Khalife's ingenuity around his escape.

"It's a reminder we have some of the best military in the world here and he was a trained soldier so he has skills perhaps some sections of the public don't have."

Khalife had been working in the kitchen of Category B HMP Wandsworth in South London when he climbed under the delivery van and held on as it drove out of the jail.

It is thought he used strapping to keep himself attached to the van.

He managed to roll out from underneath the van as it travelled across a busy road without being noticed by anyone.

Highly-trained counter terror cops are trying to track down Khalife
Highly-trained counter terror cops are trying to track down Khalife. Picture: Metropolitan Police
Khalife fled Wandsworth prison
Khalife fled Wandsworth prison. Picture: Alamy

The Met is still searching the London area, especially Kingston, where Khalife has connections, but the force is keeping an open mind as to whether he may have fled the country.

Checks were beefed up at airports while a stretch of the M20 was shut to non-freight traffic as part of an enhanced regime at Dover.

"Khalife's previous military experience may mean he may be more aware of efforts to apprehend him," the Met previously said in a statement.

It said he does not pose a threat to the wider public but anyone who sees him could call 999 and not approach him.

Khalife served in the army before his arrest
Khalife served in the army before his arrest. Picture: Alamy

He was based at Beacon Barracks in Beaconside, Stafford, where he was alleged to have taken details from MoD personnel files that would be "useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism".

Khalife, who was discharged from the army in May, is also accused of a bomb hoax after allegedly putting "three canisters with wires" on a desk in January this year.

He denies three criminal charges and was due to appear in court in November.

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