On-the-run terror suspect Daniel Khalife was caught after being pulled off a push bike by a plain-clothed counter terrorism officer, police have said.
Metropolitan Police counter-terrorism boss Commander Dominic Murphy told reporters the 21-year-old former soldier, who escaped HMP Wandsworth four days ago, was arrested on suspicion of being unlawfully at large and being an escaped prisoner.
He was apprehended just before 11am on Saturday on a canal towpath in west London, around eight miles from where he was last seen by a member of the public, and is now in police custody, the force said.
Officers conducted an “intelligence-led search at a residential premises” in the Richmond area and, although Khalife was not found there, the force received a number of calls from the public with sightings of the suspect nearby.
Speaking about the investigation, Mr Murphy said: “It’s been about 75 hours since he went missing from the prison to the point of his arrest. That’s pretty quick given the challenge of trying to find this individual.
“He was arrested yesterday for being unlawfully at large and for being an escaped prisoner.
“In terms of the investigation, it really gathered momentum yesterday afternoon, with a number of calls from the public, but really took a different course last night, when we did an intelligence-led search in the Richmond area in the early hours of this morning.
“Whilst we didn’t find him at that search, while we were at that search, we had a number of calls from the public over the next hour or two, giving us various sightings of him.”
Footage obtained by The Sun newspaper showed Khalife sat on the canal towpath after his arrest, with a bike, a Waitrose cool bag and a sleeping bag nearby.
Addressing the arrest, Mr Murphy said after he was pulled off the push bike, Khalife was “fully cooperative and handcuffed and arrested”.
He said: “At 10.41am he was arrested in Rowdell Road in UB5 in London on the canal towpath.
“He was actually arrested by a plain clothes officer… and he was riding a pedal cycle, so a pushbike, at the time, was pulled off that pushbike by that officer and arrested at that location.
“Upon being detained by the officer he was fully co-operative and handcuffed and arrested.”
Questioned on why it took four days to complete the search, Mr Murphy said: “This isn’t a TV programme.
“This is a real-life manhunt for somebody who has escaped from prison and he’s quite a resourceful young man.”
He added: “The reality is I was confident we were going to find him and I’m pleased to say we have.”
Mr Murphy said police have not had a claim for the £20,000 reward yet.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he was “very pleased” Khalife has been arrested as he praised efforts by the police and the public in finding him.
Officers were seen checking people’s gardens, stopping cars, inspecting car boots and asking residents for their IDs throughout the morning.
Mr Murphy said the Met received “well over 100 calls” from members of the public, with the number increasing “substantially” on Friday evening and in the early hours of Saturday.
He described the investigation as “extremely complicated”, with a lot of police activity being led by intelligence.
Detectives believe the former soldier escaped from HMP Wandsworth by strapping himself to the bottom of a delivery lorry after leaving the prison kitchen in a cook’s uniform.
It is unclear whether he will be taken back to the category B prison or to a higher-security location.
Khalife 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.
Detailing where Khalife had been spotted, Mr Murphy said the force was informed of two sightings in the Chiswick area, causing them to redeploy resources into the area.
The last confirmed sighting of the suspect was in the Church Street and Chiswick Mall area, he added.
Labour demanded answers from the Government now that Khalife has been arrested.
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: “We need answers about how on earth a prisoner charged with terror and national security offences could have escaped in this way.”