British son of Hollywood movie director, 26, is revealed as bloodthirsty star of al-Qaeda propaganda videos
EXCLUSIVE: British son of Hollywood movie director, 26, is revealed as bloodthirsty star of al-Qaeda propaganda videos after converting from Catholicism and smuggling himself to Syria
London-born Muslim convert identified as Lucas Kinney starred in al-Qaeda video after changing his name to Abu Basir al-Britani
Father worked as assistant director on several popular blockbusters
Mother Deborah fears Lucas, 26, could be killed in a RAF drone strike or decide to become a suicide bomber
She said she can’t understand conversion to radical Islam by her son who wanted to be a priest when he was 13
Uni dropout was into rock and was in a band called Hannah’s Got Herpes
Changed name to an Islamic name after being radicalised in Austria. Moved to Cairo and went to fight in Syria in 2013
Mother found out he was fighting in Syria on Mother’s Day last year
By TOM WYKE FOR MAILONLINE and NEIL SEARS FOR THE DAILY MAIL
PUBLISHED: 22:59, 18 October 2015 | UPDATED: 12:41, 19 October 2015
The white British son of a film director has converted from Catholicism to Islam and become an al-Qaeda fighter in Syria, the MailOnline can reveal.
Lucas Kinney, 26, has become a figurehead for the jihadis – appearing in online propaganda videos designed to encourage new recruits to sign up.
The first white British convert to emerge in Syria, as a Home Counties schoolboy he took holy communion at a Roman Catholic church and attended Catholic primary and secondary schools. As a teenager, he even spoke of being a priest.
His father Patrick, 59, worked closely with Steven Spielberg on films including Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade and was assistant director on a long series of blockbusters.
Mother Deborah Phipps, 53, who was divorced from Lucas’s father when he was still at primary school, told yesterday of her dread that her son will be the next Briton killed by a RAF drone strike or in a Russian bombardment, and her fears that he might become a suicide bomber.
Mrs Phipps, who receives occasional emails from her son, is at a loss to explain how he went from a bright, normal teenager to a Muslim fanatic.
After leaving school he attended Leeds University but dropped out after a year. He played in a series of rock bands then went to live with his father in Vienna. It was there that he is believed to have been radicalised.
He is now a figurehead of the Syrian al-Qaeda-linked group Jabhat al-Nusra, and has starred in two propaganda videos posted online under the nom de guerre Abu Basir al-Britani.
Mrs Phipps, who now lives with her second husband in a honey stone executive home in the West Country, with a smart Jaguar parked outside, told the Mail her jihadi son faces continual danger.
Threats include rival Islamists Islamic State – who could capture him as a British trophy – as well as the Syrian army and Russian bombers, and also from RAF drones which have been used to assassinate UK jihadis there.
Mrs Phipps said: ‘Lucas is a target. I’m glad he’s associated with al-Qaeda rather than IS, but obviously I worry.
‘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.
‘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.
‘I last heard from him recently. I don’t get anything for months and months and then all of a sudden I get an email and every time I think, ‘Well, at least he’s still alive’. That’s the relief.
‘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.’
Most British jihadis in Syria are born Muslims of overseas descent – but the existence of a white convert only emerged online several months ago in the two Jabhat al-Nusra videos presented by ‘Abu Basir al-Britani’. Not until today has he been exposed as Lucas Kinney.
Bespectacled, calm and well-spoken, he sounds very much England-born as he talks about the atrocities being carried out by Jabhat al-Nusra’s rivals ISIS. Both films are journalistic in style in contrast to the crude attempts at visual terror in IS videos.
One of Kinney’s professionally produced videos is entitled ‘So the Way of the Criminals Will Become Clear’.
In it, he visits the scene of an IS attack on a mosque in a Jabhat al-Nusra area of Syria, but adds with the faith of a fervent convert that the ‘good thing’ for his murdered ‘brothers’ is that ‘Allah chose to take them in a very good time. He gave them an honourable death’.
Referring to Islamic State, Kinney says the group ‘is not deserving of that name’.
His broadcasts are designed to encourage other Britons to join his al-Qaeda group in Syria, a criminal offence in Britain.
Some observers mocked him, with ‘Don’t forget your toothbrush’ jibes after they noted that in one video, while Kinney had an AK-47 over his shoulder, there was a green and white toothbrush tucked in amid the ammo in his military webbing.
Kinney, who has a younger brother and sister, was born in Hammersmith, West London, in 1989 to his CofE British mother and his British/American Roman Catholic father.
His father Patrick, son of a United Nations diplomat, started his movie career as an assistant director on the film 1984, and progressed through one of the Rambo films, Out Of Africa and Cry Freedom to working alongside Spielberg on Empire Of The Sun and Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade.
In addition to working on numerous other films and ITV police drama series The Bill, he was second assistant director on Braveheart and Chaplin.
The family settled initially in a modern detached house in the Home Counties. Kinney followed his father to the local church and, said his mother, attended both the linked primary school and nearby Catholic secondary.
After a few years his parents divorced, his father moved to Florida alone, and his mother remarried, to an airline manager.
When Kinney’s stepfather got a three-year posting to Saudi Arabia the whole family moved there.
They feared evacuation because they arrived only days before September 11, 2001 – the moment when al-Qaeda launched itself on the world by bringing down the World Trade Centre.
When fears calmed they stayed, and after private English schooling in Saudi Arabia, the family went on to Egypt. Kinney was placed at the elite private Modern English School in Cairo, and performed in numerous school plays.
He grew his hair long, dyeing it red, and formed and played electric guitar in a series of rock bands, one called Hannah’s Got Herpes. He also posted pictures of scantily clad girls on Facebook. In Cairo he gained International GCSEs and then three A-levels including music and art.
He then lived briefly with his father in a Vienna flat during a gap year before beginning a Middle Eastern Studies with Arabic course at Leeds University in 2009.
After a year he dropped out, and returned to live with his father in Vienna. It is there he is thought to have become a Muslim convert.
Mrs Phipps said: ‘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.
‘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.
‘In Cairo he was very social, had lots of friends, and was very easy going. He was in bands and behaved like a typical teenager. I wasn’t particularly worried about him.
‘He didn’t become a Muslim then. He liked pop music, all the school productions he was in, a performer basically. He used to do battle of the bands as well because he played guitar a lot.’
She added that while Kinney was in Vienna with his father, she and her husband moved to Islamabad, Pakistan, leaving her two youngest in UK boarding schools, for her second husband’s job with BA – but again were rocked by terror just after arriving.
al-Qaeda was blamed for killing 56 with a bomb at the Marriott hotel in Islamabad in September 2008. It led to BA suspending flights there, and the family coming straight back to Britain.
Speaking of his year at Leeds, his mother said: ‘I don’t think he became involved in Islam there. He liked drinking and smoking and girls, all the things that basically they can’t do.
‘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.
Lucas posted a drawing of David Rockefeller, describing him as ‘face of evil, the most evil people on the planet’
‘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.’
She was not in touch with him for some time, but then came the sudden Mother’s Day discovery that he was a jihadi in Syria.
Mrs Phipps said: ‘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.
‘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.’
Mrs Phipps said her son had never talked of attacking the West, but added: ‘In emails from Syria he kept using koranic phrases and wants everyone to convert.’
She added: ‘Special Branch has been in touch of course.’
Asked about the toothbrush seen in the video, tucked next to the bullets in his military webbings, she smiled as she said it possibly really was for dental hygiene, rather than Kalashnikov cleaning. ‘He’s always been very good at doing his teeth,’ she said.
Kinney’s last contact with his mother was short. It featured koranic references and asked after his father’s health.
Kinney did not respond to an email request from the Mail for comment. His father declined to comment.