Chiswick’s moment in the spotlight

Image above: Police vans at the entrance to Chiswick House; photograph Nick Raikes

Daniel Khalife hunted through Chiswick, captured in Northolt

Daniel Khalife has been charged with escaping from custody at HMP Wandsworth, the Metropolitan Police have said, after he was recaptured by the canal in Northolt on Saturday morning.

His escape from Wandsworth prison on Wednesday (6 September) strapped to the underside of a food delivery truck led to a four day manhunt which came to a head in Chiswick.

On Friday night residents of Grove Park heard the sound of a helicopter hovering low and it looked as if the search was concentrated at the marina. On Saturday morning shortly after 9am the police confirmed they were hunting for the escaped terror suspect.

The police had received a call from a member of the public with a reported sighting of Khalife in Spencer Road. In the early hours of this morning, a further sighting of Khalife was reported at the junction of Church Street with Chiswick Mall.

One witness, Frank, told The Chiswick Calendar on Saturday morning:

“I think I saw the convict yesterday. Twice. Once on my run at 7am. He was asleep on bench at Kew Bridge and again in that shed on Corney Rd. Def same bloke and I remember thinking I bet that’s him. Police on Pumping station road all night and still there now.”

Image above: Daniel Khalife

Armed police, helicopters, boats, dogs ….

The manhunt involved over 150 officers from the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, supported by officers from across the Met and other forces across the UK, as well as intelligence services.

Grove Park was full of police vans and cars, with officers from Met’s Territorial Support Group, dogs units, local officers, police helicopter and specialist police search teams.

Not long after 11am they said they had caught him in ‘the Chiswick area’. An hour or so later it became clear that they had caught him by the canal in Northolt, several miles away. The 21 year-old former soldier was pulled off a bike by plain-clothes officers, apparently protesting his innocence. Commander Dominic Murphy said he was fully cooperative at the time of his arrest at 10.41am.

It is believed he may have had support while he was on the run, as he was found wearing new clothes and carrying a Waitrose bag with food in. The police thanked the people of Chiswick for helping to catch him. Local police posted:

“To all the #Chiswick residents who called in with vital information regarding sightings of Daniel Khalife.

“This ultimately allowed police resources to focus within our community & arrest him #Thankyou”

Image above: Police by Chsiwick flyover on Saturday morning; photograph Nick Raikes

‘The mood on the ground’

The Chiswick Calendar had several requests for interviews while all this was going on. Times Radio presenter Alexis Conran asked The Chiswick Calendar’s co-director Nick Raikes what was “the mood on the ground” and whether people were worried about a potential terrorist hiding out here.

Nick said there was plenty of speculation about why he was here but played down the idea that we might be terrified, as in all honesty ‘the mood on the ground’ was more excitement than fear.

Khalife was in prison after being charged earlier this year with devising a fake bomb, eliciting personnel information from an MoD information system about members of the armed forces “which is of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism”, and breaching the Official Secrets Act.

School friends describe him as a joker who “didn’t know his arse from his elbow.” His mother Farnaz Khalfe says he has been suffering episodes of mental illness since he was a teenager and “doesn’t live in reality”. Others have described him as “polite” and “sweet”.

Perhaps this is why the tone of Chiswick’s excited gossip on Saturday morning was not so much terrified as cynical and witty.

Image above:Police in Grove Park; photograph Nick Raikes

‘Police became suspicious when they saw a man in Chiswick House Gardens without a Labradoodle’

One wrote that police became suspicious when a man was seen walking in Chiswick House Gardens without a Labradoodle. Another commented that he wouldn’t stay long because of the price of a cafe latte here.

‘Daniel Khalife has handed himself in after seeing the rental prices for a 1 bed in Chiswick’ posted Chris Atkins.

‘Once those Chiswick mums’ WhatsApp groups get pinging it’s all over for him’. Jonathan Samuels.

And on his eventual capture several miles away:

‘The lady on the news just said Khalife was captured in the Northolt area of Chiswick – please pray for her’. Marc McGonagle.

‘Despite the Met Police statement saying Daniel Abed Khalife was arrested in Chiswick, this footage was recorded over six miles from there, in Northolt – double the distance from HMP Wandsworth to Chiswick.’ Andrew Gardner.

Anneka Rice posted: ‘I actually feel sad Khalife missed a walk along the river and the Chiswick Book Festival’ and book festival director Torin Douglas opened the Michael Frayn book festival session at ArtsEd with the ‘newsflash’ that he’s been caught and the suggestion that he had been on his way to the book festival when he was captured.

‘Haven’t had this much excitement in Chiswick since that Jesus of Escariot bought The Stables in Bedford Park’ posted Mike Abbott.