The British son of a Hollywood director has been identified as the star in a series of al-Qaeda propaganda videos. The 25-year-old Muslim convert, Lucas Kinney, is the London-born son of Hollywood movie director Patrick Kinney who has worked closely with Steven Spielberg on a number of films including Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade. Lucas is not your typical al-Qaeda fighter, he is the first white British convert to be found in Syria, and is a figurehead of the organization being featured in many propaganda videos aimed at recruiting members to the terrorist organization.
The Daily Mail reports that 25-year-old Lucas Kinney grew up in a Catholic home. He attended Catholic school and even discussed the possibility of going into the priesthood when he was a teen. However, that all changed when Lucas moved to Vienna where his mother claims he was radicalized. Lucas' mother, Deborah Phipps, claims that Lucas was a "normal teenager" and attended Leeds University for a year following high school. She says he dropped out after the first year and participated in some bands for a while before moving to be near his father Patrick in Vienna. Deborah is divorced from Lucas' father and says that she has no idea how her son came to this point.
Deborah says she is worried her son will be killed in Syria, or become a suicide bomber. She notes that she does receive the occasional email from her son and that he was recently married. However, she says she knows little about her son's whereabouts or what he is doing within the organization. Just a few months ago there were no known white British-born al-Qaeda fighters in Syria. However, that all changed when a propaganda video was uploaded online several months ago. The video featured a man named Abu Basir al-Britani and featured the then-unknown white convert. Now it has been made known that Abu Basir al-Britani is actually Lucas Kinney.
The professional-looking videos created by Kinney are designed to encourage other white British men to join his al-Qaeda group in Syria. He has also posted videos of various areas after a fight with the Islamic State noting that the group is "not deserving of that name." Though Deborah Phipps claims he was converted while in Vienna with his father, it was with his mother that Lucas got his first taste of the Middle East. Kinney's stepfather, an airline manager, was moved to Saudi Arabia in 2001, just days before the September 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City. The family decided to stay and Lucas attended an English school in Saudi Arabia before moving to Egypt where Kinney attended an "elite private" school called Modern English School.
After his schooling in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, Lucas decided to move to Vienna with his father during his gap year before attending Leeds University to study Middle Eastern Studies and Arabic. After dropping out of school, Kinney then moved back with his father and it was then that it is believed he was converted to the al-Qaeda group.
His mother is still holding out hope that her son has good motives for his conversion.
"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. There are pictures of him on Facebook with guns. I think he possibly would martyr himself – I think he's mentioned it once a long time ago. And this is another one of our fears, that he would do that."