Paul Greengrass lined up for adaptation of Morten Storm's al-Qaida memoir

After Captain Phillips, Greengrass could take on another blockbusting real-life story in a film version of Morten Storm's tale of radicalisation and eventual defection

Paul Greengrass is to potentially direct a film adaptation of the memoir of Morten Storm, the Dane who became radicalised and joined al-Qaida, before renouncing the organisation and becoming an MI5 and CIA informant.

Storm's extraordinary life story is recounted in Agent Storm: My Life Inside al-Qaeda, written with CNN journalists Tim Lister and Paul Cruickshank, and published this month. After a childhood in Denmark characterised by petty crime, a violent stepfather and running with a biker gang, Storm discovered Islam, and moved to the Middle East where he was radicalised. But the escalating violence of al-Qaida triggered a loss of faith in Islam, and drove him to defect to intelligence agencies in the UK, Denmark and the US – and eventually, he claims, lead them to one of their primary targets, Anwar al-Awlaki. The CIA disputed his claims that his involvement directly led to al-Awlaki's death, and denied him a $5m reward.

The film rights have been bought by Sony, with Scott Rudin, who worked with Greengrass on the director's previous film Captain Phillips, producing it. The Hollywood Reporter and Deadline both cite Greengrass as being lined up to direct.

Al-Qaida, and the 'war on terror', is familiar ground for Greengrass, who originally became known for his entries in the Jason Bourne saga. His film United 93 portrayed the events on board the hijacked plane that was downed in Pennsylvania on 9/11, while Green Zone was set in Baghdad during the Iraq war.

Like Green Zone, Captain Phillips was also based on a memoir, that of a container ship's captain who was taken hostage by Somali pirates. Starring Tom Hanks and a Bafta-winning Barkhad Abdi, it was a critical and commercial success, making $218m worldwide.


Ben Beaumont-Thomas

The GuardianTramp

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