Who is Daniel Khalife and what did he do? Everything you need to know about the soldier turned terror suspect

8 September 2023, 15:57 | Updated: 8 September 2023, 16:15

Here's everything you need to know about Daniel Khalife.
Here's everything you need to know about Daniel Khalife. Picture: Alamy/Metropolitan Police

By Jenny Medlicott

A nationwide manhunt is underway for Daniel Khalife after he escaped Wandsworth prison on Wednesday - but who is he and why is he on the run? Here's everything you need to know.

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Daniel Khalife escaped HMP Wandsworth on Wednesday 6 September sparking an urgent manhunt by Metropolitan Police.

As police scour London for the escaped prisoner, here’s everything you need to know about the man on the run.

Who is Daniel Khalife?

Daniel Abed Khalife, 21, is a former member of the British Army turned suspected terrorist and spy. He is a British citizen whose father is believed to be Iranian.

Khalife trained as a soldier in 2018 for the British Army before he went on to join the Royal Corps of Signals as a computer network engineer - but in January his life took a turn that would change everything as the highly trained soldier was charged on three counts.

He was charged first with devising a fake bomb, made up with “three canisters with wires”, while he was at his barracks in Stafford.

This was followed by a second charge, wherein the former soldier was accused of eliciting personal information from a Ministry of Defence information system about members of the armed forces while he was serving in August 2021.

The information he leaked was “of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism”.

Finally, he was accused of breaching the Official Secrets Act over a three-year period, between May 2019 and January 2022.

He did this by collecting or sharing intel that could be “directly or indirectly useful to an enemy” - it is understood this enemy was thought to be Iran.

He joined the Royal Corps of Signals as a computer network engineer.
He joined the Royal Corps of Signals as a computer network engineer. Picture: Alamy

When was he arrested?

Khalife was arrested in January this year before he was sent to HMP Wandsworth prison on remand, where he was still being held at the time of his escape. He was awaiting trial on alleged terrorism and Official Secret Acts offences at an RAF base.

Khalife denied all three charges against him at the Old Bailey in July and was due to appear in court for a six-week trial on November 13.

Khalife was also arrested in January 2022 on suspicion of a separate offence but he was later released on bail. He was re-arrested following an investigation by Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism command.

His escape makes him the seventh person to escape from prison in England and Wales in the past five years.

Khalife's escape sparked an urgent manhunt.
Khalife's escape sparked an urgent manhunt. Picture: Metropolitan Police

How did he escape?

The former soldier secured himself a role in the prison canteen - a coveted position though to be given to the most trusted inmates.

HMP Wandsworth receives regular food deliveries for its 1,500 plus inmates and staff - but his escape has left many wondering how he managed to get out.

The prison he was being remanded in is a Category B jail in South London - a prison of the second highest level security.

Despite his role in the kitchen, prison delivery trucks undergo strict security checks as they go in and out of the institution.

Khalife used makeshift strapping to tie himself to the underside of a Bid Food lorry on Wednesday when he made his escape.

The first possible sighting of the escaped prisoner emerged on Friday, as an eyewitness said he saw a man leap into a black car about two miles from Wandsworth prison.

A newsagent in Putney said he was a "tall, lanky dude with dark hair", who he later recognised as Khalife, get into a black vehicle outside Wansdworth County Court.

Khalife tied himself to the underside of a food delivery truck.
Khalife tied himself to the underside of a food delivery truck. 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.

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

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley told LBC that Khalife's breakout was "clearly pre-planned" and "unlikely to be something you do on the spur of the moment", before raising the possibility that it could have been an “inside job”.

“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.”

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