THEentered its second day on Thursday as authorities raced to locate terror suspect and former British soldier Daniel Abed Khalife. The 21-year-old escaped from a London jail on Wednesday, apparently clinging to the underside of a delivery truck.
The Times of London newspaper said Khalife, who worked in the kitchen at Wandsworth prison in south London, slipped under a delivery van dressed in a chef’s outfit and held on while she walked through the doors. Khalife was reported missing at 7:50 a.m. local time (2:50 a.m. Eastern) on Wednesday, British police said.
The former British Army soldier was awaiting trial in prison on terrorism-related charges, accusing him of planting fake bombs on a military base. Khalife was also accused of collecting sensitive personal information about soldiers from a British Ministry of Defense database, CBS News partner network BBC News reported Thursday.
Evidence from a previous court appearance was used to claim that Khalife “obtained” personal information about soldiers from the Department of Defense’s Joint Personnel Administration System, who were “likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism”.
Khalife has been accused of working for Iran, according to the BBC, but he has denied all charges against him.
Dominic Murphy, commander of counter-terrorism with the Metropolitan Police in London, launched a urgent public call that anyone who sees Khalife report him to the authorities, saying the suspect could be “at large anywhere in the UK”.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on Thursday he wanted to “reassure people that public safety is, of course, our primary responsibility” and at the center of the authorities’ work.
Security checks were underway at UK ports and airports on Thursday after being alerted to the manhunt the day before. In a social media postHeathrow Airport said that “due to additional security checks being carried out, waiting times for departing passengers may be longer than usual”.
Questions have been raised about whether Khalife should have been held in a more secure facility, given the nature of the charges against him. Wandsworth Prison is a ‘Grade B’ prison, which holds high security prisoners but is not considered as secure as a ‘Grade A’ prison, the highest security classification for prisons in the world. United Kingdom.
In the annual prison performance reviews carried out by the UK Ministry of Justice, Wandsworth Prison received a grade of ‘1’ for 2022/23, meaning it was a prison of ‘very concern’. Grades are determined in part by the security and stability of a prison.
Addressing the UK Parliament on Thursday, UK Justice Minister Alex Chalk said he had ordered two urgent reviews both of the categorization of Wandsworth prison in particular and of prisons across the UK which host prisoners charged with terrorist offences.
“Daniel Khalife will be found and he must be brought to justice,” Chalk promised.
A prison spokesman told the BBC an internal investigation was underway to determine exactly why Khalife was being held at the Wandsworth facility and whether security procedures were being followed correctly.
“The Justice Secretary is working tonight to understand from his operational colleagues both the categorization decision and the situation that led to the escape, what protocols were in place and if they were followed,” said the prison spokesman.
The Times of London also reported on Wednesday that an hour elapsed between prison officials realizing Khalife was missing and notifying police. Police said in an emailed comment to CBS News on Thursday that they had no further information on Khalife’s whereabouts.
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