How Did Daniel Khalife Manage to Get to Northolt?

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The location in Northolt where Khalife was finally caught


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September 13, 2023

The recapture in Northolt of the prisoner who broke out of Wandsworth Prison last Wednesday (6 September) has raised a number of questions about how he came to be in the area.

21-year-old Daniel Khalife was eventually tracked down on Saturday at 10:41am on the towpath on the Grand Union Canal south of Belvue Park after one of the largest manhunts ever to take place in this country.

The police say that he was tackled while riding a push bike by a plain-clothes anti-terrorism officer who had warned him that he would deploy a taser if he did not stop.

Pictures taken at the scene show that the bike he was using was a mountain bike and he appears to have had a Waitrose shopping back and a mobile phone. He was arrested on suspicion of being unlawfully at large and being an escaped prisoner.

The day after the former soldier’s escape, the focus of the search was on Richmond Park. The police had revealed that he had connections in the Kingston area and walking though the park was one route to get there from the Wandsworth direction. Officers were stationed at the park gates and a there was an ‘intelligence-led’ search at a property in Richmond on Friday evening. Khalife had attended primary school in North Sheen.

Daniel Khalife. Picture: Met Police

There had been a number of reported sightings in the Chiswick area from early on Friday (8 September) initially near the vicinity of Kew Bridge and then within the grounds of Chiswick House. After a spate of reports earlier in the day, there were apparently no more sightings of the fugitive in the area. We have asked the police to confirm the veracity of these sightings but they said they were unwilling to comment on retrospectively on the investigation. Some are questioning whether the police were slow in switching the focus of their resources on the Chiswick area after he was reported as being seen in the area earlier on Friday.

That night and into the following morning there was intensive police activity in the Chiswick area with houseboats on the river searched, drivers in the vicinity of Church Street and Chiswick Mall asked to provide ID and open their boots and a helicopter deployed for several hours over the Grove Park area near the river and Chiswick House Gardens.

A police van in Chiswick House Gardens
A police van in Chiswick House Gardens

On Saturday morning police had revealed that the focus of their search was Chiswick and in the immediate aftermath of the arrest it was announced that he had been detained there.

Commander Dominic Murphy who was leading the hunt said in a press conference on Saturday morning, “We then deployed officers there and we subsequently had further sightings in the Church Street and Chiswick Mall area, where again we deployed a number of officers.

“We consider those to be confirmed sightings of him. And then as a result of that activity, and clearly a number of other intelligence checks that we were doing at the time, we continued to deploy officers in that area, that’s when he was found this morning at 10.41am.”

It now appears likely that Khalife must have left the Chiswick area some time late on Friday or very early Saturday. None of the reported sightings mentioned him having a bike and this seems to have been acquired at this time.

If he was in the Chiswick area, his most likely route was to have walked or ridden to Brentford and then joined the Grand Union Canal towpath at that point. The distance between the site of his capture and the Chiswick locations where he was spotted earlier is nearly nine miles and, even with a bike, it would have taken him nearly 50 minutes to travel between the two locations.

One local resident who was a former member of the armed forces and walks on the towpath regularly told us, “It is quite clear what he was intending and he was using his training. If he had got much further north, he would have been out of an urban environment and much more difficult to find. He obviously was getting help and the question must have for the police was this from a hostile foreign intelligence agency or his mates from the place he grew up. My theory is that they had located him much earlier and were monitoring him to see who he made contact with and made the announcement about the focus of the search being in Chiswick to lull them into a false sense of security but the raid the previous night eventually led to the conclusion that there was no contact with any overseas enemy so they nabbed him.”

Khalife is accused of trying to spy for a foreign government, believed to be Iran, obtaining information likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, and plotting a fake bomb hoax. Having been assigned duties in the kitchen at Wandsworth Prison, he strapped himself to the underside of a food delivery van to break out.

The lorry that Khalife strapped himself to the underside of with bedsheets
The lorry that Khalife strapped himself to the underside of with bedsheets. Picture: Met Police

He was remanded in custody at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Monday, charged with escaping custody at HMP Wandsworth on Wednesday.

It was confirmed during the hearing that, when Khalife was arrested, he had a bag containing cash and a mobile phone.

The defendant was told that he is due to appear at the Old Bailey on 29 September.

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