A manhunt has been launched for a British soldier awaiting trial on “terrorism”-related charges who escaped from a prison in southwest London, according to the United Kingdom’s Counter Terrorism Policing force.
Daniel Abed Khalife, who is accused of planting fake bombs at a military base and of violating Britain’s Official Secrets Act, went missing from Wandsworth prison on Wednesday morning, police said.
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Khalife, 21, has denied all the charges against him. He was discharged from the army in May, the Ministry of Defence said.
“We have a team of officers who are making extensive and urgent enquiries in order to locate and detain Khalife as quickly as possible,” said Commander Dominic Murphy, head of the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command.
Murphy told the Sky News broadcaster that Khalife was dressed in a kitchen uniform of white T-shirt and red chequered trousers at the time of his escape, adding that there is no evidence he is still wearing that outfit.
No official explanation of how Khalife escaped was provided.
The BBC and other media outlets reported he had been working in the kitchens of the jail and had got out by strapping himself to the bottom of a food delivery van.
Murphy said there is no information to suggest that Khalife poses a threat to the wider public but urged anyone who may see him to not approach him.
An alert was issued by police to Britain’s ports and airports, including London Heathrow, where travellers faced delays because of additional security checks.
“Due to a police matter, there are currently enhanced checks on outbound traffic at the Port of Dover and other portals within the UK,” the busy port, Britain’s main gateway to Europe, said in a statement.
Charges against Khalife
Khalife, who was based at barracks in central England at the time of the alleged offences, is accused of eliciting or trying to elicit information “likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism”.
He was also charged with carrying out a bomb hoax by placing three canisters with wires on a desk “with the intention of inducing in another a belief that the said article was likely to explode or ignite”.
Police later added an offence of obtaining information that might be “directly or indirectly useful to an enemy” in contravention of the Official Secrets Act.