Terrorism suspect who escaped from London prison is captured while riding a bike

Photo provided by the Metropolitan Police of Daniel Abed Khalife who escaped from a London prison while awaiting trial on terrorism charges. (File/AFP)
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Updated 09 September 2023

Terrorism suspect who escaped from London prison is captured while riding a bike

  • Daniel Abed Khalife was on the run four days before a massive search managed to nab him Saturday

LONDON: A former British soldier facing terrorism charges who snuck out of a London prison on a food delivery truck was captured Saturday, police said.
Daniel Abed Khalife was nabbed while riding a bicycle along a canal path west of London after a four-day manhunt.
Khalife escaped from the Wandsworth Prison kitchen Wednesday and got outside the gates by strapping himself to the bottom of a catering truck.
Khalife, 21, was awaiting trial on charges of violating Britain’s Official Secrets Act by gathering information “that could be useful to an enemy” and planting fake bombs at a military base. He was discharged from the British army after his arrest earlier this year and denied the allegations. His trial is set for November.
The breakout ignited a storm of criticism as political opponents linked the escape to years of financial austerity by the United Kingdom’s governing Conservative Party. The government said an independent investigation would determine how Khalife escaped the medium-security prison that opened in 1851 during the reign of Queen Victoria.
“We need answers about how on earth a prisoner charged with terror & national security offenses could have escaped in this way,” Yvette Cooper, a member of the Labour Party in the House of Commons, wrote on social media Saturday.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak thanked the police and public and said the inquiry would get to the bottom of how Khalife got away.
The escape prompted extra security checks at major transport hubs, particularly in and around the Port of Dover, the main boat crossing from England to France, and led to the shutdown of a major highway at one point.
London counter-terror police had offered a 20,000 pound ($25,000) reward for information leading to his arrest. It was not immediately clear if anyone was in line for the reward.
Police on Friday had announced a breakthrough in the search after a witness reported seeing Khalife at a busy intersection near the prison shortly after the escape.
Metropolitan Police’s counterterrorism commander Dominic Murphy wouldn’t say if the sighting was confirmed by surveillance cameras, but London has one of the most robust security camera networks in the world and any footage could have helped track his whereabouts.
“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,” Murphy said. “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.”
Police had received reports he was seen in the Chiswick area of west London and they descended there on Saturday morning, with police cars and vans swarming the area and helicopters hovering overhead.
Paul Wade said he opened his curtains to find five police officers outside his home.
“They said ‘I expect you know why we are here,’” he said. “They were checking everybody’s gardens.”
But Khalife was nowhere near there when a plainclothes officer ultimately made the collar in the late morning, Murphy said.
Khalife was pulled off a bicycle along the canal near the community of Northolt, about 10 miles (16 kilometers) from where he escaped.
Murphy said he was cooperative when arrested. He now faces additional charges of being unlawfully at-large and being an escaped prisoner.

Israel allows UN to bring in more equipment amid Gaza lawlessness

Updated 11 min 29 sec ago

Israel allows UN to bring in more equipment amid Gaza lawlessness

  • The UN has long complained of obstacles to getting aid into Gaza

NEW YORK: The United Nations said on Monday that it will start bringing in more armored vehicles and personal protection equipment for its humanitarian aid operations in the Gaza Strip after receiving approval from Israeli authorities.
The approval was in response to a UN letter sent to Israel last month on safety and security in Gaza, said Scott Anderson, deputy humanitarian coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, as the war between Israel and Palestinian militants Hamas enters its tenth month and law and order has broken down.
The UN has long complained of obstacles to getting aid into Gaza — Israel inspects and approves all trucks — and says it is also struggling to distribute aid amid “total lawlessness” within the enclave of 2.3 million people, where a global hunger monitor last month said there is a high risk of famine.
Anderson said the UN was due to start bringing more armored vehicles and protection equipment into Gaza on Tuesday.
“Some communications equipment has also been approved,” he told reporters, like hand-held radios, but added that discussions are still continuing on a UN request for stable Internet access.
The UN has said it wants communications that did not rely on cell phone towers because they were not reliable. However, Israeli authorities have security concerns about what Hamas could do if it accessed satellite Internet service.
Anderson said the UN needed to bring in aid in the right quantity and quality, but several factors “continue to stand in our way.” He listed problems including restrictions on movement, aid worker safety, unpredictable working hours, communications challenges and a lack of fuel.
“And we’ve seen a complete breakdown of law and order and we’ve seen essentially what are crime families preventing the free movement of aid into Gaza to assist people,” he said.
“The truck drivers that we use have been regularly threatened or assaulted ... they’ve become less and less willing, understandably, to move assistance from the border crossings to our warehouses and then onto people that are in need,” Anderson said.
He said the UN was getting between 25 and 70 aid trucks a day into northern Gaza, but there was no commercial access.
Anderson said in southern Gaza “we’ve been barely able to hit 100 trucks on a good day over the last week because of law and order problems,” but that commercial deliveries were doing a little better “but they pay essentially protection money to the families in the south and they also have armed guards.”
Aid officials say about 600 trucks of humanitarian and commercial supplies are
needed in Gaza daily
to meet the needs of the population.
He said the UN was “in talks with everybody about trying to get some sort of police force established” and in the meantime was working with the families that are hindering aid deliveries to try and address the problem.
“It’s a few families that are trying to take advantage of this opportunity and that’s why I’m confident if we get police back at work that they can address the issue,” Anderson said.

Indonesia boosts funding to UNRWA to $1.2m amid funding crisis

Updated 27 min 1 sec ago

Indonesia boosts funding to UNRWA to $1.2m amid funding crisis

  • Indonesian government has announced a grant of $2 million in response to the UNRWA flash appeal

LONDON: Indonesia announced on Monday that it will increase its funding to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees to $1.2 million.

The announcement was made by Indonesian Ambassador to the UN Arrmanatha Nasir during a UN pledging conference in New York on Friday.

Starting this year, Indonesia will raise its annual contribution to UNRWA to $1.2 million. In addition, the government has announced a grant of $2 million in response to the UNRWA flash appeal for the occupied Palestinian territories, covering the period from April to December 2024.

Its 2022 donation amounted to $200,000 and excluding flash appeals in 2023, its contribution totaled $600,000.

Nasir highlighted Indonesia’s commitment to seeking innovative funding solutions for UNRWA, including engaging Indonesian society through partnerships with zakat management institutions.

UNRWA, which coordinates nearly all aid to Gaza, has been in crisis since January, when Israel accused about a dozen of its 13,000 Gaza employees of being involved in the Oct. 7 attack.

The agency, which provides aid and services to Palestinian refugees in Gaza and throughout the region, was thrown into crisis when the Israeli allegations emerged. In response, the US, the biggest single funder of UNRWA, and several other major donors put their funding for the organization on hold. In all, 16 UN member states suspended or paused donations, while others imposed conditions, placing the future of the agency in doubt.

Israeli authorities have yet to provide any evidence to back up their allegations, an independent review headed by the former French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Catherine Colonna concluded in April.

Jordan, Saudi Arabia conduct three airdrops in southern Gaza

Updated 44 min 31 sec ago

Jordan, Saudi Arabia conduct three airdrops in southern Gaza

  • One airdrop of food supplies took place in Al-Mawasi, where thousands of displaced Palestinians are sheltering

AMMAN: The Jordanian Armed Forces, in collaboration with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center, conducted three airdrops of humanitarian aid in the southern Gaza Strip on Monday.

The airdrops involved two Royal Jordanian Air Force aircraft and one from Egypt, according to a statement carried by Jordan News Agency.

One airdrop of food supplies took place in Al-Mawasi, in the city of Khan Younis, where thousands of displaced Palestinians are sheltering, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

In a CNN interview earlier this month, Queen Rania explained the reason for the airdrops in an area where the UN has reported a widespread food crisis.

“We found that after trying so hard in vain to persuade Israel to open the land access points, that we had to do something. We couldn’t just sit idle and watch people starving,” she said.

She added the airdrops were desperate measures to address a desperate situation, describing them as “drops in an ocean of unmet needs.”

Queen Rania echoed King Abdullah’s comments that the airdrops were far from sufficient and could not replace the large-scale humanitarian access needed to deal with the issue.

Since October, Jordan has conducted 117 airdrops independently and participated in 266 others with international partners.

The Jordanian army reiterated its commitment to continuing support efforts, including an airbridge from Marka Airport in Amman to El Arish International Airport in North Sinai, which facilitates both airdrops over Gaza and the organization of ground aid convoys.

Jordanian energy commission, US solar foundation sign MoU

Updated 55 min 3 sec ago

Jordanian energy commission, US solar foundation sign MoU

  • Marks lauded Jordan’s significant role in leading green education, innovation in the Middle East

AMMAN: Jordan’s Arab Renewable Energy Commission — AREC — and the American Solar Car Challenge Foundation — ASC — have entered into a memorandum of understanding to promote innovative initiatives aimed at enhancing vocational education in the Arab world.

The partnership is designed to contribute to sustainable development and generate productive green job opportunities for recent graduates, Jordan News Agency reported on Monday.

The MoU was signed in Dallas by ASC Founder Lehman Marks and AREC Secretary-General Mohammad Al-Ta’ani.

Marks lauded Jordan’s significant role in leading green education and innovation in the Middle East, noting the country’s extensive experience with renewable energy and electric vehicles.

Al-Ta’ani stressed the MoU’s importance in supporting Jordan’s efforts toward creative and innovative technical and vocational green education, as well as in creating more job opportunities.

He highlighted Jordan’s internationally recognized leadership in sustainable development as a model of stability and energy security.

Additionally, an international solar car race is scheduled to be held in Jordan in September 2025, organized in collaboration between ASC and AREC, featuring teams from Arab and foreign countries.

Egyptian cyclist Shahd Saeed disqualified from Olympics

Updated 15 July 2024

Egyptian cyclist Shahd Saeed disqualified from Olympics

  • Decision followed a collision with a rival teammate in April

LONDON: Egyptian track cyclist Shahd Saeed has been disqualified from participating in the Paris 2024 Olympics later this month, the BBC reported on Monday.

The decision, taken by the Egyptian Olympic Committee, followed a collision with a rival teammate in April.

Video footage of the incident at the Republic Championship race shows 19-year-old Saeed riding behind teammate Ganna Eliwa before veering into her, resulting in a severe crash.

Eliwa suffered a concussion, a broken right collarbone, and multiple cuts and bruises, according to medical reports.

The incident occurred just 300 meters before the finish line, leaving Eliwa with long-term injuries, including temporary memory loss and an inability to resume competitive cycling.

Saeed consistently maintained that the collision was accidental.

However, Eliwa countered this, stating that Saeed never offered an apology, fueling further speculation about the cause of the crash.

Following an investigation, the Egyptian Cycling Federation suspended Saeed for one year and imposed a fine equivalent to $100 — the maximum penalty under their regulations.

The federation’s decision to register Saeed for the Olympics ignited a wave of public outrage in Egypt. Many social media users urged authorities to reconsider, with some claiming the selection violated the Olympic values of excellence, respect, and friendship.

In a statement issued over the weekend, the EOC emphasized that Saeed’s actions in April were deemed to have violated “the regulations, customs, values, and ethics of sports.”

It continued: “Shahd Saeed is not eligible to participate in any international competition, including the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, due to her one-year suspension until 26 April 2025.”

In a TV interview following the EOC decision, Saeed acknowledged her responsibility for the crash but reiterated that it was “not deliberate.”

She told the talk show: “I wish I had represented Egypt in the Olympics and my efforts over three years had paid off.”

Meanwhile, Eliwa expressed satisfaction with the EOC’s decision, stating: “It was expected. Saeed does not deserve to be in Paris.”