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Hour by hour, this is how the law finally caught up with Daniel Khalife

Daniel Khalife and the canal towpath where he was arrested.
Police searched for Daniel Khalife in Chiswick, top right, and eventually traced him to a canal in Northolt, bottom right (Picture: Getty/PA)

On the morning of September 6, former British Army soldier Daniel Abed Khalife was serving up breakfast to his fellow prisoners at HMP Wandsworth in South London.

Despite the fact he had been charged with serious terror offences, which he denies, the 21-year-old was one of the few inmates who had the privilege of working in the kitchen – generally considered one of the more pleasant jobs available.

However, he wouldn’t be doing the role for much longer.

While still dressed in his chef’s uniform, Khalife is believed to have told others he was off to unload a supplies van before slipping out one of the kitchen’s side doors at around 7.30am.

This morning, a court heard he may have used bed sheets to strap himself to the bottom of a Bidfood delivery truck, which then passed through three security gates. He was declared missing at 7.50am.

He seems to have clung on as the lorry passed through Wandsworth Common, and was spotted by a member of the public walking away from the vehicle at Wandsworth Roundabout.

Police, who were notified of the disappearance at 8.15am, stopped the truck near East Putney underground station at 8.37am – but it was already on its way back to the prison, after the driver had been called by Bidfood.

The officers only found the straps underneath.

It was the beginning of a major manhunt that gripped the nation for four days before Khalife was finally apprehended on Saturday.

How Daniel Khalife pulled off the Great Escape HMP Wandsworth metro graphics Credit
The route that the Bidfood lorry took after leaving HMP Wandsworth on Wednesday morning (Picture:
How Daniel Khalife pulled off the Great Escape HMP Wandsworth metro graphics Credit
Police only stopped the lorry when it was already heading back towards the prison (Picture:

The Metropolitan Police released an appeal at around 3.50pm on Wednesday, the first indication to the public that something had gone wrong.

Within a couple of hours, significant delays were being reported at Manchester, Gatwick and Glasgow airports as extra care was taken over border checks.

A spokeswoman for the Met said at the time: ‘An alert was issued by the Counter Terrorism Command earlier today in relation to Khalife through established operational briefing channels to relevant UK police and law enforcement agencies, including those at UK ports and borders.’

On Thursday, Kent Police temporarily shut the coastbound carriageway of the M20 between junctions eight and nine in order to minimise disruption from the enhanced security checks, allowing continent-bound freight to queue on the empty motorway.

Commander Dominic Murphy, the head of the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command, confirmed the hunt was covering the entire UK although Khalife had links to north-west England and Kingston in London.

He also made an surprising statement later that day describing the alleged criminal’s ‘ingenuity’ in evading officers.

? Licensed to London News Pictures 08/09/2023. Ashford, UK. Queuing freight traffic is held at junction 9 for Ashford in Kent. The M20 in Kent between junction 8 and junction 9 is closed for a second day as the search continues for escaped prisoner Daniel Abed Khalife age 21 who broke out of Wandsworth prison. Photo credit: Grant?Falvey/LNP
Freight traffic was held at junction 9 for Ashford in Kent so police could make sure Khalife wasn’t sneaking out the country (Picture: Grant Falvey/LNP)

Mr Murphy said: ‘This was a really busy area of London and we’ve had no confirmed sightings in any of that information, which is a little unusual, and perhaps testament to Daniel Khalife’s ingenuity in his escape and some of his movements after his escape.

‘It’s important that we remember that we have some of the best military in the world here in the UK and he was trained.’

There was a brief false alarm at Banbury station in Oxfordshire when police arrested a man they believed to be the terror suspect – then de-arrested him when it became clear he was not.

By that point, more than 150 investigators and police staff from counter terrorism command were working on tracking down Khalife in London, with help from forces and agencies around the country.

On Friday morning, officers swooped on Richmond Park just a few miles from Wandsworth Prison, reportedly using thermal imaging cameras to try and locate the fugitive.

Investigators said they could not rule out the possibility he may have fled the country, despite the extra checks.

How Daniel Khalife pulled off the Great Escape HMP Wandsworth, Richmond Park metro graphics Credit
Officers carried out extensive searches of Richmond Park west of Wandsworth on Friday (Picture:

Mel Thomas, a retired police sergeant who appears in Channel 4’s Hunted series, said: ‘What the organisations have got against them is it’s good weather, it’s not cold at night, so even sleeping rough is not going to be uncomfortable.

‘You could happily find somewhere comfortable and, as an ex-military individual, he’ll be used to sleeping outside.’

A dog walker later told The Sun she had spoken to Khalife on a park bench at Chiswick House and Gardens on Friday, and noticed he had an injured ear that was badly stitched with fishing line.

That evening, the Met announced a £20,000 reward for information on the escapee’s whereabouts, and said they had been contacted by the person who saw him walking away from the Bidfood truck after it stopped near the south entrance to Wandsworth Roundabout.

Mr Murphy said the sighting ‘could be very significant’.

An intelligence-led search at a residential property in the Richmond area also took place that evening, but police would not confirm if it was linked to Khalife by family or associates.

METRO GRAPHICS Daniel Khalife Found Map
The full map of Daniel Khalife’s brief escape from the law (Picture:

As the search entered its third night, one of Khalife’s relatives said in an interview with The Times: ‘If I could talk to him, I would tell him to end this and give himself up, even though I understand he is afraid.’

Saturday morning brought a significant update from the Met, as officers carried out ‘intensive search activity’ in the Chiswick area of west London following a call from a member of the public at around 2am or 3am.

In a statement, the force said: ‘This activity comes after intelligence-led activity and some confirmed sightings in that area overnight, including calls from members of the public.’

Cars were stopped and searched, local residents were asked for their IDs and a police boat was spotted on the River Thames.

Just after 10am, there were reports the Met had scaled back their search in Chiswick – but around an hour later, the force announced they had found their man.

Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Daniel Khalife, appearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court in central London, where he is charged with escaping while a prisoner at HMP Wandsworth while on remand pending a trial at the Old Bailey. He was arrested on Saturday following a four-day manhunt. Picture date: Monday September 11, 2023. PA Photo. See PA story COURTS Army. Photo credit should read: Elizabeth Cook/PA Wire
The 21-year-old appeared in Westminster Magistrates’ Court this morning (Picture: PA)

An initial statement said he had been arrested in Chiswick, but it later emerged Khalife had been apprehended on a canal towpath at Rowdell Road in Northolt.

A plainclothes police officer had pulled him off a bike as he cycled past, with witnesses later saying the escapee was laughing and winking after finally being caught.

He was reportedly travelling with a Waitrose cool bag and a sleeping bag.

Mr Murphy said: ‘It’s been about 75 hours since he went missing from the prison to the point of his arrest. That’s pretty quick given the challenge of trying to find this individual.’

Khalife was charged with escaping prison on Sunday, and appeared in Westminster Magistrates’ Court today where he was remanded in custody.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at

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