A former soldier accused of terrorism has escaped jail from a prison kitchen by clinging on to a delivery van.
Daniel Abed Khalife, 21, went missing in his cook’s uniform from HMP Wandsworth on Wednesday shortly before 8am, where he was being held awaiting trial for planting a fake bomb and gathering information that might be useful to terrorists or enemies of the UK.
He has denied the three charges against him.
Khalife’s escape sparked a major police hunt with ports and airports placed on alert and some passengers facing delays as extra checks were carried out.
He was last seen wearing a white t-shirt, red and white chequered trousers and brown steel-toe-cap boots, the Metropolitan Police said, and is slim and 6ft 2in, with short brown hair.
He made his escape, details of which were first reported in the Sun, while working in the kitchen at the category B prison.
The jail was put on lockdown after he fled.
Head of the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command, Commander Dominic Murphy, said: “We have a team of officers who are making extensive and urgent inquiries in order to locate and detain Khalife as quickly as possible.
“However, the public can help us as well and should anyone see Khalife, or have any information as to where he might be, then please call 999 immediately.
“I also want to reassure the public that we have no information which indicates, nor any reason to believe that Khalife poses a threat to the wider public, but our advice if you do see him is not to approach him and call 999 straight away.”
Khalife has links to north-west England and Kingston in London, but Mr Murphy said the hunt is covering the whole of the UK.
The 21-year-old appeared at the Old Bailey in late July where he denied the charges he is facing.
He is accused of eliciting or trying to elicit information that could be useful for a terrorist on August 2 2021, and breaching the Official Secrets Act by gathering information that could be useful to an enemy between May 1 2019 and January 6 2022.
The ex-serviceman, formerly of Beacon Barracks, Beaconside, Stafford, is also accused of a criminal offence relating to the alleged bomb hoax.
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.
HMP Wandsworth is a category B prison, the second highest level of security.
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.
A Prison Service spokesman said: “We are working with the Metropolitan Police to recapture this prisoner and are urgently investigating how he escaped.”
The escape from Wandsworth prison had a knock-on effect of disrupting court hearings for other defendants on remand at the south London site.
On Wednesday morning, murder-accused Earl Morin-Britton, 36, from Sutton, south London, missed his first appearance at the Old Bailey by video link from Wandsworth prison due to the lockdown.
A prison officer told Judge Alexia Durran that there was “an operational emergency and no movement across the establishment”.
Meanwhile passengers at Manchester Airport have been facing delays of about 30 minutes at security as extra passport checks are carried out, the PA news agency understands.
Delays have been reported at the Port of Dover and Gatwick has also confirmed additional security measures are in place.
There were some queues at Heathrow Airport security on Wednesday, but it is “operating as normal”.