Fugitive ‘Iranian spy’ Daniel Khalife: The class joker at Keira Knightley’s school who loved YouTubers and dreamed of being a cyberwarrior – and boasted to fellow prisoners that he was ‘going to be famous’
This is suspected Iranian terrorist Daniel Abed Khalife meeting a YouTube hero as it was revealed he was a ‘class clown’ and cyberwarrior at school who told a fellow prisoner he was ‘going to be famous’ before he escaped.
Police locked down Richmond Park in London today and have been watching the flat he grew up in with his mother and twin sister nearby following his Colditz-style breakout from HMP Wandsworth.
Khalife, who was thrown out of the British Army for allegedly spying for a hostile state, ‘vanished into thin air’ on Wednesday morning after clambering under a food delivery lorry.
Chris Jones, 53, who was released from Wandsworth in June, worked in the kitchen with Khalife who had told him he was ‘going to be famous’ one day.
Until three years ago his home had been six miles from the jail he escaped from. He was born in Westminster but moved to south-west London and lived in a £450,000 two-bed flat in Kingston, sharing a bedroom with his twin sister.
A schoolboy Daniel Abed Khalife reacts as he spots YouTube star Callux as friends said he wanted to be a cyberstar
He was born in Westminster but moved to south-west London and lived in a £450,000 two-bed flat in Kingston, sharing a bedroom with his twin sister
Khalife attended Teddington School, whose alumni includes Keira Knightley (pictured)
His mother and father are separated and he is estranged from his dad. His mother is understood to have moved to Wales and his father was last living in an exclusive street in Chelsea. None of his relatives have commented since his prison break.
Khalife attended Teddington School, whose alumni includes Keira Knightley. One friend told The Times: ‘He was a very nice guy when he joined the school aged 11. He was the class clown, one of the funniest in the year, but he became a bit more into his shell.’
He was in the lower sets at school, and was described as a bit of a loner who sat at the back ‘swinging on his chair’, leaving with a ‘handful of GCSEs’ and joining the Army shortly afterwards.
The 21-year-old joined the First Signal Brigade and then the Royal Corps of Signals, a regiment that leads on IT, Cyber and Telecommunications, providing battle winning communications to every part of the Army.
READ MORE: Police probe whether fugitive ‘Iranian spy’ Daniel Khalife had help from the inside
People who know who said computers were his passion, and he was immersed in the online world. A Vlog by YouTube star Callux, who has 4million subscribers, showed Khalife playing with a padlock to a railway gate.
The terror suspect’s face lights up when he and two friends realise who has just walked past them and he asks if they can take a selfie.
It comes as Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said today that police are not ruling out the possibility that Khalife’s escape from prison was an inside job.
The force chief said the ex-British soldier’s audacious jailbreak from HMP Wandsworth was ‘clearly pre planned’ and confirmed the prospect of jail staff helping him remained part of their enquiries.
It comes as the search for Khalife centred around Richmond Park, which was locked down overnight amid claims he could be using his army training to hide out there.
Two helicopters with body-heat detecting technology circled the park – near where his family have recently lived – while pharmacies have been urged to keep a lookout following suggestions he may have suffered burns to his face during his escape.
Khalife, who served in 16 Signal Regiment, whose motto is Find A Way Or Make One, is thought to have clung to the underside of the truck by fashioning straps out of the plastic covering on his cell mattress.
Sir Mark told LBC of the escape this morning: ‘It is clearly pre-planned, the fact that he could strap himself onto the bottom of the wagon.’
A police car is seen inside Richmond Park this morning as the hunt for Khalife continues
The Met Police admitted that Khalife’s ‘previous military experience’ may make him harder to catch, as he is likely ‘more aware of efforts to apprehend him.’
The van left the Category-B prison at around 7:30 am, taking a right turn out of the gates onto Heathfield Road
Scotland Yard revealed last night there was 65 minutes between it leaving the prison and being stopped and searched by police, meaning a huge number of possible places where Khalife might have slipped away.
As investigators worked to unravel how he managed to pull off a Colditz-style breakout in broad daylight, more details emerged of the audacious escape.
Khalife, who police suspect used his military training to carefully plan his escape, began Wednesday morning by helping to prepare breakfast at the Victorian jail.
He turned up for duty dressed in his chef’s uniform of a white T-shirt, distinctive red and white chequered trousers and brown steel-toe boots.
After serving breakfast to inmates and guards, he slipped out of the kitchen carrying makeshift strapping of some kind, which police have declined to describe in more detail.
In the yard outside the kitchen building, a lorry from the wholesaler Bidfood was making a routine delivery of groceries.
When no one was looking, Khalife ducked under the sidebars of the lorry and positioned himself precariously beneath the truck’s underbelly, using the strapping to support his weight.
At around 7.30am, with the driver blissfully unaware of the stowaway, the Bidfood lorry was driven 250 yards along the road running along the inside of the 30ft perimeter wall famously scaled by Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs in 1965. Two internal security gates had to be opened to let it pass.
At 7.32am, the lorry carrying the former Royal Signals soldier rolled through the prison’s imposing Victorian gate into the open.
It was waved past guards and CCTV cameras with another cursory inspection, with no one thinking to check underneath at any of the three security checks.
As Khalife clung on, just inches from the wheels and the spinning drive shaft, the lorry turned right on to residential Heathfield Road, then left, then left again on to the busy triple-laned A214.
Police have stressed there is no suspicion about Bidfood or its driver, and said they had been co-operating fully.
Officers either do not know or have not said at what point Khalife decided to leave his escape vehicle, or what he did next.
But the truck embarked on a near four-mile route through Wandsworth Town and on to the South Circular A205 road heading west towards Putney.
Khalife had an 18-minute head-start before anyone even noticed his absence. He was declared missing at 7.50am, and prison officers launched an urgent search, but it was a further 25 minutes before the police were called at 8.15am – by now a full 43 minutes after he had sprung himself.
Metropolitan Police cars descended on the area, while the lorry driver was called by his company and ordered to turn around and return to the prison.
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