British Hollywood director's son joins Al Qaeda in Syria

Son of Hollywood film director Patrick Kinney joins Al Qaeda faction in Syria

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

Members of al Qaeda's Nusra Front carry their weapons as they move towards their positions near al-Zahra village, north of Aleppo city, November 25, 2014.

Lucas Kinney, son of Patrick Kinney, who has worked as an assistant director alongside Steven Spielberg in Hollywood movies including Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, has been seen featured in two propaganda videos for the Syrian Al Qaeda-affiliated group Jabhat al-Nusra.

Kinney, who calls himself Abu Basir al Britani, appears in a series of recruitment videos posted online aimed at persuading fellow Muslims to join in the fight against both Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad and the ISIS militant group.

In the video, he was seen sporting a beard, holding guns and denouncing ISIS atrocities on civilians with a native British accent.

Both of the two videos he was featured in are journalistic in style, in contrast to the ISIS videos’ crude attempts at visual terror.

Lucas's mother, Deborah Phipps, stated that she has received occasional emails from her son and that she fears he might die of a RAF drone strike or in a Russian bombardment or even become a suicide bomber.

"Lucas is a target. I'm glad he's associated with al-Qaeda rather than [ISIS], but obviously I worry,” Phipps stated in the Daily Mail.

“On Mother's Day, last year, I spoke to his father and he told me he thought our son was dead because there was a picture of him on the internet lying on a bed in Syria and you couldn't tell if he was alive," she continued.

“Later that day we found out he wasn't dead but was seriously injured. He'd been struck by a mortar so his arm basically was hanging off. He had to have a big operation and he said he wouldn't be able to fight for about 18 months.”

"He's married out there. I don't know anything about her. They don't have any children as far as I know, but this is recent, the last few months.”

"We just want him to come home. If he's done something wrong I'd like him to accept the consequences. He's still young - and at least he's still alive."

The 26-year-old, who converted from Catholicism to Islam, attended Catholic primary and secondary schools. As a teenager, he spoke of becoming a priest.

“Lucas's father Patrick is a Catholic and Lucas is Catholic – he did Holy Communion and everything. At one stage, when he was 12 or 13, he wanted to be a priest,” Phipps said.

The whole family then moved to Saudi Arabia after his stepfather, an airline manager, got a three-year position there. Kinney then continued his school years at a private English school before they moved on to Egypt.

In Cairo, he performed in numerous school plays and played electric guitar in a series of rock bands, one called Hannah's Got Herpes.

"He's very bright, very talented, very musical, very artistic, good at anything creative. But he was always still looking for something, some sort of direction," Phipps told the Daily Mail.

In 2009, he began a Middle Eastern Studies with Arabic course at the University of Leeds but dropped out after a year.

“I don't think he became involved in Islam there [Leeds University]. He liked drinking and smoking and girls, all the things that basically they can't do.”

After a year he dropped out, and went to live with his father in Vienna, where he is thought to have become a Muslim convert.

"When Lucas went to Vienna – that was where everything changed. Lucas did not say he was becoming a Muslim, but we used to talk on Skype so we could see him, and obviously you could see he had become a Muslim,” his mother continued.

Patrick Kinney, his father said, “his religion is very important to him. He had a beard and the robes, it was quite obvious. After a while he moved out to live with friends. We didn't even really discuss it.”

Phipps had not been in touch with her son for some time, but then came the sudden Mother's Day discovery that he was fighting in Syria.

“When I found out he was in Syria I said, 'If I could get on a plane and come out there and bring you back, I would'. But he said, 'No, that's not what I want'. They have to want to come back, then maybe you can take steps."

“A long time ago he said to me, 'They're killing Muslims'. He was talking about Assad, the Syrian president. He said, 'They're raping women, killing children as well'. I think it's Assad's regime, fighting that, that's taken him there,” she added.

His mother stated that her son had never mentioned any attempts or thoughts of attacking the West, but added, “In emails from Syria he kept using Koranic phrases and wants everyone to convert.”

TRTWorld and agencies