Opinion: Why are we thirsting over a terror suspect?

During the panicked search for escaped terror suspect Daniel Khalif, he gained an overwhelming amount of attention for reasons you might not expect – his good looks.

But why have people been thirsting over him?

Daniel Khalife, aged 21, escaped from Wandsworth Prison on 6 September, allegedly by strapping himself under a food delivery van. He was charged earlier this year on suspicion of devising a fake bomb, exposing personal information about members of the armed forces, and breaching the Official Secrets Act which could be “directly or indirectly useful to an enemy“.

During Khalife’s 75-hour disappearance – he has now returned to prison – he gained not only freedom but also a fan base.

Due to his alleged good looks, his name quickly started trending on social media platforms such as TikTok and X (formerly known as Twitter).

One TikTok user went viral: she filmed herself biting her lip while posing next to a news article about Khalife highlighting the fact he is 6ft 2ins tall. Many users took to the comment section to agree with her apparent lust for him, with one user even saying “he can hide in…I mean under my bed.”

By contrast, an array of users expressed their disgust at her response to his disappearance, with one user stating “terrorism isn’t something to romanticise”.

This sexualisation of suspects and criminals alike is no new phenomenon. Serial killers Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer were prime examples when they became sex symbols in the US even after they were convicted.

While these social media users meant no harm, it still feels strange that they were more concerned with Khalif’s appearance than his alleged crimes. Can attractiveness really excuse your actions to that extent?

Even the news presented Khalife in a favourable physical light at times. One image used frequently by news channels to aid the search showed him topless in his army trousers. Emphasising his athletic build served no purpose in helping the nation identify him.

Whilst most women love a ‘bad boy,’ a line must surely be drawn when it comes to a terror suspect.

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