London’s police chief, Mark Rowley, labeled Daniel Khalife‘s daring prison escape as “carefully orchestrated” as the intensive search for the terrorist suspect extends into its third day.
Rowley, the commissioner of London’s Metropolitan police, conveyed to a U.K. radio station, LBC, on Friday that law enforcement was considering the prospect of Khalife receiving aid from individuals, potentially even prison personnel.
“To work out a prison escape, and how you are going to do the logistics of it, get the right equipment and how you are going to do it, it’s unlikely that you would do that in the spur of the moment,” Rowley said.
The 21-year-old former British soldier, awaiting trial in a south London prison on terrorism-related charges for allegedly planting fake bombs at an army base, executed an escape from a London prison on Wednesday, September 5, 2023, clinging beneath a delivery truck.
Khalife also faced accusations of working for Iran and extracting personal information from a U.K. Ministry of Defence database, as reported by BBC, a partner of CBS News.
The pursuit of Khalife has focused on Richmond Park in southwest London, Europe’s largest urban park spanning 2,500 acres, narrowing the search considerably.
Approximately 150 counter-terrorism officers have been engaged in the search, according to the Metropolitan police.
Police helicopters circled the park overnight, and vans scoured the area on Friday morning.
Don’t miss out on: Ukraine Strikes Moscow’s Fighter Jets in Drone Attack on Russian Territory
Khalife has not been publicly sighted, and authorities caution that his military background could make him adept at evasion.
According to investigators, Khalife was last seen wearing a white T-shirt, red and white checkered trousers, and brown steel-toe cap boots. They suspect he might still be in a prison chef’s uniform from his kitchen work during incarceration.
Concerns have arisen regarding Khalife’s placement in a more secure facility, given the gravity of his charges. Wandsworth prison in London, where he was held, falls under “Category B,” housing high-security prisoners but not meeting the standards of a “Category A” prison, the highest security level in the U.K.
Dominic Murphy, counter-terrorism commander for London’s Met police, confirmed that the vehicle used by Khalife to escape had been stopped in southwest London less than an hour after his disappearance, but Khalife had not been located at that time.
Murphy said on Thursday that despite over 50 calls from the public offering “valuable lines of inquiry,” it was “a little unusual and perhaps a testament to [Mr Khalife’s] ingenuity” that he has yet to be found.
Furthermore, there is an appeal for a shop assistant who reportedly witnessed the fugitive Daniel Abed Khalife to step forward. This unnamed person asserts that they observed him hastily move from the Bidfood delivery van to a black car on Wednesday morning in close proximity to Wandsworth County Court.
John Podmore, a former governor of Belmarsh, Brixton, and Swaleside prisons, expressed his bewilderment on BBC Radio Newcastle regarding Daniel Khalife’s placement at Wandsworth prison, which is categorized as a “Category B” facility.
“Without a doubt he should have been at Belmarsh” – a category A prison – he says. “It is well-suited to holding terrorist suspects and those convicted of terrorism.”
“It’s also a prison that serves Woolwich Crown Court and this man was due to go there. So the illogic of him going somewhere else baffles me.”
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak refrained from commenting on speculations regarding potential foreign state involvement in the escape.
“Because this is an ongoing police investigation, I’m sure you can understand it wouldn’t be appropriate for me to provide a running commentary or detail on it.
“But people should be reassured that police are working around the clock.”