A massive manhunt is underway in the United Kingdom for an escaped prisoner who is accused of terrorism and working for Iran. Daniel Abed Khalife, a former British soldier, escaped from HM Prison Wandsworth in London on Wednesday, September 6, 2023, by strapping himself to the bottom of a food delivery van. He was awaiting trial on charges of planting fake bombs at an army base and collecting sensitive personal information about soldiers from a U.K. Ministry of Defense database. He has denied all of the charges against him.
The escape has sparked outrage and criticism from the public and politicians, who have questioned how such a high-risk prisoner could have managed to evade security measures and escape from one of the largest prisons in Europe. The prison authorities have launched an internal investigation into the incident and have suspended several staff members pending the outcome. The police have warned the public not to approach Khalife, who is considered armed and dangerous, and have urged anyone with information about his whereabouts to contact them immediately.
Khalife, who is 34 years old, was born in Lebanon and moved to the U.K. when he was 10. He joined the British Army in 2010 and served in Afghanistan as a combat medic. He left the army in 2014 and converted to Islam. He was arrested in 2021 after a series of raids by counter-terrorism officers, who found evidence of his involvement in a plot to target an army base in Surrey with fake bombs. He was also accused of accessing a Ministry of Defense database and downloading personal details of hundreds of soldiers, including their names, addresses, phone numbers, and photos. He allegedly shared this information with Iranian agents, who paid him thousands of pounds for his services.
Khalife’s trial was scheduled to begin in October 2023 at the Old Bailey, where he faced up to life imprisonment if convicted. His escape has raised serious concerns about the security of prisons and the safety of the public in the U.K., especially as the country faces an increased threat from terrorism and foreign interference. The government has vowed to do everything possible to find Khalife and bring him to justice, while also promising to review and improve the prison system to prevent such incidents from happening again.