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UK airport chaos: Travellers face delays as manhunt for terror suspect continues

Undated handout photo issued by the Metropolitan Police of Daniel Abed Khalife, 21, who went missing from HMP Wandsworth on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2023.
Undated handout photo issued by the Metropolitan Police of Daniel Abed Khalife, 21, who went missing from HMP Wandsworth on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2023. Copyright Left: AP, right: Cleared
Copyright Left: AP, right: Cleared
By Charlotte Elton
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A police manhunt for a terror suspect has caused queues at UK airports.

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Airports ramped up security measures to help police hunt for an escaped terror suspect yesterday, sparking chaos for UK travellers.

Former British Army soldier Daniel Abed Khalife, 21, escaped from London’s Wandsworth Prison on Wednesday (6 September), reportedly by clinging to a food delivery van.

Khalife - who was on remand for counter-terrorism and Offical Secrets Act charges - was previously deemed a flight risk and refused bail. He stands accused of planting fake bombs at a military base and was awaiting trial at the time of his escape.

The 21 year-old could be “at large anywhere in the UK,” counter-terrorism commander Dominic Murphy warned.

“We are mindful of the risk of him potentially leaving the country,” he said.

Airports and ports instated additional security checks yesterday, leading to lengthy delays for some travellers.

Which airports and ports are experiencing delays?

All of the UK’s airports are on alert, including national hubs Heathrow and Gatwick. Disruption has eased after peaking yesterday afternoon and evening.

Heathrow Airport said it was operating “as normal” on Wednesday but “additional security checks” were being carried out and wait times for departing passengers may be longer than usual.

Social media users shared their frustration at the delays.

“Immigration queues at T3 are enormous. People have been waiting for several hours,” wrote Vidit Nanda on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

Another user described a two-hour wait after landing at the West London airport.

Glasgow airport was also thrown into chaos. Travellers reported queues of more than an hour at security, as an announcement over the tannoy blamed the disruption on a ‘national incident.’ Passengers had to go through an additional ID check after the security X-ray.

Delays were also reported at the Port of Dover.

“Due to a police matter, there are currently enhanced checks on outbound traffic at the Port of Dover and other portals within the UK,” the Port said in a statement.

“Please be advised this is currently resulting in some delays at the port. However, our standard travel guidance remains unchanged and we will keep passengers updated if they can expect any alteration to their journey.”

Khalife has not yet been located, and the manhunt is ongoing. However, disruption at airports and ports appears to have eased.

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