Escaped terror suspect Daniel Khalife reportedly told a fellow inmate at HMP Wandsworth he was “going to be famous” one day.
Khalife, 21, escaped the Category B prison in south-west London on Wednesday, making headlines around the world and sparking a nationwide manhunt that on Friday entered its third day.
The former soldier is thought to have been working in the prison’s kitchen, and is believed to have escaped wearing his cook’s uniform, by clinging to a Bidfood delivery truck.
One former inmate at HMP Wandsworth, who worked alongside Khalife in the prison’s kitchens, said the escapee had struck him as “odd” and had told him he was “going to be famous”.
He also revealed prisoners working in the kitchen had previously joked about escaping on a food truck.
Chris Jones, 53, told BBC London: “He did seem like an odd sausage. One lunchtime he came in saying that he was going be famous. I told him: ‘I think you’ve got on the wrong bus, mate’.”
Mr Jones, who the BBC reported was released in June after being acquitted after seven months on remand, said he was “surprised but not surprised” when he learned of Khalife’s escape.
He said: “We always used to joke about that lorry; jump in it and drive off, but there was a lot of security staff around the kitchens so it is a surprise he got through there.”
Khalife, who 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, was discharged from the Army in May 2023.
He has denied the three charges against him.
He was last seen wearing a white T-shirt, red and white chequered trousers and brown, steel toe-cap boots, the Metropolitan Police said. He is described as slim and 6ft 2in, with short brown hair.
Police scoured Richmond Park in south-west London on Thursday night and Friday, as the search for him continued.
The force has refused to rule out that he may have left the country, or that he had outside help to escape prison.
The Met’s counter-terrorism commander said on Thursday it was “testament to the ingenuity” of the 21-year-old that there had been no confirmed sightings of him since his escape.
Dominic Murphy said he was keeping an “open mind” as to whether Khalife had received support from somebody to escape prison and whether he had managed to leave the country.
He said more than 150 investigators and police staff from counter terrorism command working in London on investigation and officers had received more than 50 calls from the public which had provided “some really valuable lines of inquiry”.
In a press briefing on Thursday, Mr Murphy said: “This was a really busy area of London and we’ve had no confirmed sightings in any of that information, which is a little unusual, and perhaps testament to Daniel Khalife’s ingenuity in his escape and some of his movements after his escape.
“He was a trained soldier – so ultimately he has skills that perhaps some sections of the public don’t have.
“He’s a very resourceful individual, clearly, and our experience of him shows that, so nothing is off the table with him at the moment.”
The lorry Khalife is believed to have strapped himself to left HMP Wandsworth at 7.32am on Wednesday. He was declared missing at 7.50am.
Police were notified at 8.15am and the lorry was stopped on Upper Richmond Road, near to the junction of Carlton Drive, at 8.37am.
CCTV footage later emerged of the van driving along a road in London after it had left the prison.
The Justice Secretary confirmed an independent investigation will take place following Khalife’s escape.
Alex Chalk told MPs two urgent reviews would also take place regarding the categorisation and placement of all HMP Wandsworth prisoners and all those in custody charged with terrorism offences.
Wandsworth prison’s performance was rated a “serious concern” and watchdogs had issued a string of warnings about the jail in the past year before Khalife escaped.
Mr Murphy previously said there was “no reason to believe Khalife poses a threat to the wider public” but urged people not to approach him and to call 999 if they spotted him.
Khalife has links to the West Midlands and Kingston in London, but Mr Murphy said the hunt was covering the whole of the UK.
He was previously stationed at the Ministry of Defence’s Beacon Barracks in Stafford.