British authorities have vowed to track down a suspected terrorist who escaped prison and remains at large on Thursday.
Former soldier Daniel Abed Khalife was held in pretrial detention at Wandsworth Prison in London when he escaped on Wednesday.
Authorities believe he may have been trapped under a delivery van.
“Daniel Khalife will be found and brought to justice,” UK Justice Secretary Alex Chalk told the lower house of parliament on Thursday.
The prison break prompted increased security at major transport hubs.
Extra security checks have been introduced at airports, while police are also searching truck lines at the Port of Dover, the main crossing from the UK to France.
Who is Daniel Khalife?
Khalife, 21, is a former British soldier who was discharged from the army in May.
He is accused of obtaining or attempting to obtain information likely to be useful to a person preparing an act of terrorism while he was based at the barracks in central England in 2021.
He was also charged with obtaining information that would be “directly or indirectly useful to an enemy.”
Separately, Khalife was accused of committing a bomb hoax by placing three canisters with wires on a table.
The fugitive ex-soldier was reportedly working in the prison kitchen at the time of his escape.
“Found the strapping on the bottom [a delivery van] which appears to indicate that Daniel Khalife may have been holding on to the bottom of it to escape,” Chalk said.
Prison under investigation
Chalk said there would be an immediate investigation into prison protocols, as well as the reason why Khalife was not held in a higher security facility like Belmarsh Prison.
“No stone should be left unturned to figure out what’s going on,” Chalk said.
Preliminary findings are due by the end of the week. A further independent investigation is also scheduled to take place at a later date.
Charlie Taylor, whose job as chief inspector of prisons is to inspect detention facilities in England, said staff shortages were “at the root of many problems”.
“There is clearly something wrong in terms of security, and that will come out over time,” he said.
It was also highlighted by the Prison Officers’ Association, which blamed government cuts for the decline in prison services.
“Wandsworth is one of the largest prisons in the country and is overcrowded and under-resourced,” said Mark Fairhurst, chairman of the Prison Officers’ Association.
zc/msh (Reuters, AFP, AP)