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Police scour Richmond Park for fugitive terror suspect, Sky News understands

todaySeptember 8, 2023 19

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Police scour Richmond Park for fugitive terror suspect, Sky News understands

Police have been scouring Richmond Park for fugitive terror suspect Daniel Abed Khalife, Sky News understands.

Officers were stationed at key entry and exit points into the early hours of Friday – with two police helicopters overhead.

Richmond Park was closed during the operation, and the investigation has now been paused until daylight.

Daniel Khalife

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Daniel Abed Khalife

Khalife, a 21-year-old former soldier, escaped from Wandsworth Prison on Wednesday morning.

He was working in the kitchen and wearing a chef’s uniform when he held on to straps underneath a food lorry to make his getaway.

Richmond Park is just a few miles away from the Category B prison, with detectives previously confirming they were focusing their search efforts in the area.

On Thursday night, Scotland Yard said there had been no confirmed sightings of Khalife since his escape – despite the police receiving more than 50 calls from the public.

While investigators believe it is possible that the terror suspect has already left the country, over 150 counter-terrorism officers have been involved in a nationwide manhunt.

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Van used in prison escape caught on CCTV

A ‘very resourceful individual’

Commander Dominic Murphy, head of the Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command, admitted the circumstances around Khalife’s disappearance were “a little unusual” – and said the escape was “perhaps a testament” to his “ingenuity”.

He added: “We have some of the best military in the world here in the UK and he was a trained soldier.

“So ultimately he has skills perhaps some sections of the public don’t have.”

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How prisoner’s escape unfolded

Commander Murphy went on to describe Khalife as a “very resourceful individual” – and said his escape “clearly” took some planning.

Officers are investigating whether he had any help, but no arrests have been made.

Khalife is a former member of the Royal Signals who was based at Beacon Barracks in Stafford – and was on remand awaiting trial accused of leaving fake bombs at a military base, a charge under the Terrorism Act, and another under the Official Secrets Act.

Read more:
What is life like at Wandsworth?

Notorious prison breakouts
Why wasn’t Khalife in Belmarsh?

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‘Wandsworth prison needs closing’

‘It is not a suitable prison’

The incident has also sparked a row about HMP Wandsworth, which was built in 1851.

The most recent report by His Majesty’s Chief Inspectorate of Prisons said it “remains one of the most overcrowded prisons in the country, with most prisoners sharing a cell built for one”.

Charlie Taylor, chief inspector of prisons, told Sky News he believes it should be shut down.

Speaking on the Politics Hub with Sophy Ridge, he said: “When you find a prison like Wandsworth, it really needs closing ultimately – it is not a suitable prison.

“In an ideal world one would, but of course you need jails because you need to service the courts.”

Written by: Newsroom

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