London on High Alert: Manhunt for Former Soldier Escapes Wandsworth Prison

London is in the grips of a tense manhunt.

by Faruk Imamovic
London on High Alert: Manhunt for Former Soldier Escapes Wandsworth Prison
© Getty Images News/Jeff J Mitchell

London is in the grips of a tense manhunt. As police and security forces scour the city, its inhabitants look over their shoulders with bated breath, hoping that a potentially dangerous individual is swiftly apprehended. The man in question: Daniel Abed Khalife, a 21-year-old former soldier, stands accused of acts of terrorism and breaches of the Official Secrets Act.

From Military Base to Ministry of Defense: The Charges

Khalife's arrest earlier this year came after alleged attempts to plant fake devices at a military base, according to the BBC. This was not just any base, but the Ministry of Defense building in Stafford.

The specific allegation, as presented in the Westminster Magistrates' Court this past February, is chilling: Khalife's act was "with the intention of causing the belief that the object would explode or catch fire". But the charges don’t stop there.

Khalife is further accused of illicitly extracting personal details of soldiers from the Defense Ministry's joint administration system in 2021. The kind of information that, in the wrong hands, could be "likely to be useful to a person who committed or is preparing a terrorist act."

A Rare Prison Break Adds to the Drama

What makes this situation even more nerve-wracking for London's residents is the rarity of such escapes.

Wandsworth Prison, where Khalife was being held, is a Category B prison situated in south-west London. Breakouts from English prisons have been a scarce occurrence in recent times, with only five documented since 2017 and fewer than 20 since the beginning of 2010.

Wednesday morning, around 07:50 local time, is when the former soldier slipped from the confines of Wandsworth. Last seen garbed in a white T-shirt, red and white checkered pants, and brown boots, Khalife's escape has Londoners and the police on high alert.

While the authorities are convinced he remains within the city's confines, they have sent out a clear message to its residents: If you see him, do not approach. Instead, call the police immediately. The underlying sentiment: Khalife poses a tangible threat to the general public.