Police leading the hunt for a prisoner who escaped Wandsworth prison have said there have been no confirmed sightings of him more than 30 hours after he disappeared.
Commander Dominic Murphy, head of the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command, said on Thursday afternoon officers more than 150 investigators and police staff from counter terrorism command were involved on the “fast paced investigation” to find Daniel Abed Khalife.
Police said they had received more than 50 calls from members of the public but so far had so far not received any confirmed sightings of the ex-soldier since he escaped from the category B prison on Wednesday morning.
They also suggested his army training may be helping him avoid capture after he escaped the prison by strapping himself to the underside of a food delivery lorry.
He 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 a testament to Daniel Khalife's ingenuity in his escape and some of his movements after his escape.
"It's important that we remember we have some of the best military in the world here in the UK and he was a trained soldier. So, ultimately, he has skills that perhaps some sections of the public don't have and I am really keen that we are using everything in our means to find him."
The food truck, pictured above, left HMP Wandsworth at 7.32am. Khalife was declared missing at 7.50am.
Police were then notified at 8.15am and the truck was stopped more than four miles away on Upper Richmond Road near to the junction of Carlton Drive in Mortlake, at 8.37am.
Route delivery van took
The truck left HMP Wandsworth at 07:32 on Wednesday and took a right turn out of the gates onto Heathfield Road. It then turned left onto Magdalen Road, left onto Trinity Road (A214) up to the Wandsworth Roundabout and took the first exit onto Swandon Way (A217). The van then turned left onto Old York Road, left onto Fairfield Street, right onto Wandsworth High Street (A3) and went straight ahead onto West Hill and then to the Upper Richmond Road (A205). Police officers stopped the truck at 08:37 on the Upper Richmond Road near the junction with Carlton Drive.
Asked about whether he had been helped to escape and if he had access to money, Commander Dominic Murphy said this forms part of the Metropolitan Police investigation, adding: “He’s out in the open now, so who’s to say whether he has money available to him now, but that’s part of our inquiry and what we’re trying to understand.
“He’s a very resourceful individual, clearly, and our experience of him shows that, so nothing is off the table with him at the moment.”
Justice Secretary Alex chalk on Thursday vowed Khalife would be found , as he announced an investigation into why he was not being held in a higher security facility.
A huge manhunt is underway to find former soldier Daniel Abed Khalife, who fled HMP Wandsworth on Wednesday morning by clinging to a food delivery truck.
The 21-year-old, who according to reports is suspected of spying for Iran, was working in the prison kitchen when he made his escape.
There are fears the fugitive might be attempting to flee the country and the incident has prompted extra security checks at major transport hubs.
Following questions about why Khalife was being held in a Category B jail, the justice secretary Alex Chalk confirmed he had ordered a review into the categorisation of every prisoner at HMP Wandsworth and all inmates across the UK charged with terror-related offences.
“Daniel Khalife will be found and he will be made to face justice,” he told MPs.
He added that there “will need to be an additional independent investigation into this incident and that will take place in due course.”
Mr Chalk said he had spoken to prison service leaders immediately after Khalife’s escape to establish what was known about it.
“I made clear then and I reiterate now that no stone must be left unturned in getting to the bottom of what happened,” he said.
“Who was on duty that morning? In what roles, ranging from the kitchen to the prison gate?
“What protocols were in place? Were they followed?”
Mr Chalk confirmed that Khalife likely used makeshift straps to tie himself to the underside of a grocery van, which then drove him out of the prison at about 7.30am.
“Shortly afterwards, local contingency plans for an unaccounted prisoner were activated and, in line with standard procedure, the police were informed,” he said.
“The prison was put in a state of lockdown whilst staff attempted to determine Daniel Khalife’s whereabouts.
“The vehicle was stopped and searched by police after the alert was raised.
“Strapping was found underneath the vehicle which appeared to indicate Daniel Khalife may have held onto the underside in order to escape.”
Khalife was reportedly held at the Category A Belmarsh prison before being transferred .
Conditions and staffing levels have been called into question at HMP Wandsworth.
Local MP Rosena Allin-Khan said: “There have been ongoing staffing issues at Wandsworth Prison.
She said staff had been asked to do double shifts to make up the shortfall.
“It’s really disconcerting that there is now someone on the loose, who was able to escape.
“I actually raised this with the Justice Secretary as well many months ago when I was alerted to [the staffing levels].”
Khalife was discharged from the Army in May 2023 and was awaiting trial after allegedly planting a fake bomb at an RAF base and gathering information that might be useful to terrorists or enemies of the UK.
It is claimed that he placed “three cannisters with wires on a desk in his accommodation” with the intention of inducing in another a belief this was “likely to explode or ignite and thereby cause personal injury or damage to property”.
A trial date has been set for November 13 at Woolwich Crown Court.
Justice Secretary Alex Chalk has held an urgent call with the prison governor and senior staff in the prison service to seek assurances about what is being done to ensure the jail is secure.
After the manhunt was launched, passengers at Manchester Airport faced delays of about 30 minutes at security as extra passport checks were carried out.
Delays were also reported at the Port of Dover, and Gatwick Airport said additional security measures were in place.
The head of the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command, Commander Dominic Murphy, said there was "no reason to believe Khalife poses a threat to the wider public" but urged people not to approach him and to call 999 if they spot him.