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Archive for Thursday, September 13, 2012

US identifies man responsible for inflammatory film

September 13, 2012

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— Federal authorities have identified a Coptic Christian in southern California who is on probation after his conviction for financial crimes as the key figure behind the anti-Muslim film that ignited mob violence against U.S. embassies across the Mideast, a U.S. law enforcement official told The Associated Press on Thursday.

The official said authorities had concluded that Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, was behind "Innocence of Muslims," a film that denigrated Islam and the prophet Muhammad and sparked protests earlier this week in Egypt, Libya and most recently in Yemen. It was not immediately clear whether Nakoula was the target of a criminal investigation or part of the broader investigation into the deaths of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans in Libya during a terrorist attack.

Attorney General Eric Holder confirmed Thursday that Justice Department officials were investigating the deaths, which occurred during an attack on the American mission in Benghazi.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation, said Nakoula was connected to the persona of Sam Bacile, a man who initially told the AP he was the film's writer and director. But Bacile turned out to be a false identity, and the AP traced a cellphone number Bacile used to a southern California house where it located and interviewed Nakoula.

Bacile initially told AP he was Jewish and Israeli, although Israeli officials said they had no records of such a citizen. Others involved in the film said his statements were contrived, as evidence mounted that the film's key player was a Coptic Christian with a checkered past.

Nakoula told the AP in an interview outside Los Angeles on Wednesday that he managed logistics for the company that produced the film. Nakoula denied he was Bacile and said he did not direct the film, though he said he knew Bacile.

Federal court papers filed against Nakoula in a 2010 criminal prosecution noted that he had used numerous aliases, including Nicola Bacily, Robert Bacily, Erwin Salameh and others.

During a conversation outside his home, Nakoula offered his driver's license to show his identity but kept his thumb over his middle name, Basseley. Records checks by the AP subsequently found that middle name as well as other connections to the Bacile persona.

The AP located the man calling himself Bacile after obtaining his cellphone number from Morris Sadek, a conservative Coptic Christian in the U.S. who has promoted the anti-Muslim film in recent days on his website. Egypt's Christian Coptic populace has long decried what they describe as a history of discrimination and occasional violence from the country's Muslim majority.

Pastor Terry Jones of Gainesville, Fla., who sparked outrage in the Arab world when he burned Qurans on the ninth anniversary of 9/11, said he spoke with the movie's director on the phone Wednesday and prayed for him. Jones said he has not met the filmmaker in person but added that the man contacted him a few weeks ago about promoting the movie. Jones and others who have dealt with the filmmaker said Wednesday that Bacile was hiding his real identity.

"I have not met him. Sam Bacile, that is not his real name," Jones said. "He is definitely in hiding and does not reveal his identity."

The YouTube account under the username "Sam Bacile" was used to publish excerpts of the provocative movie in July and was used to post comments online as recently as Tuesday, including this defense of the film written in Arabic: "It is a 100 percent American movie, you cows."

Nakoula, who talked guardedly with AP about his role, pleaded no contest in 2010 to federal bank fraud charges in California and was ordered to pay more than $790,000 in restitution. He was also sentenced to 21 months in federal prison and was ordered not to use computers or the Internet for five years without approval from his probation officer.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Leigh Williams said Nakoula set up fraudulent bank accounts using stolen identities and Social Security numbers; then, checks from those accounts would be deposited into other bogus accounts from which Nakoula would withdraw money at ATM machines.

It was "basically a check-kiting scheme," the prosecutor told the AP. "You try to get the money out of the bank before the bank realizes they are drawn from a fraudulent account. There basically is no money."

Prior to his bank fraud conviction, Nakoula struggled with a series of financial problems in recent years, according to California state tax and bankruptcy records. In June 2006, a $191,000 tax lien was filed against him in the Los Angeles County Recorder of Deeds office. In 1997, a $106,000 lien was filed against him in Orange County.

American actors and actresses who appeared in "Innocence of Muslims" issued a joint statement Wednesday saying they were misled about the project and alleged that some of their dialogue was crudely dubbed during post-production.

In the English-language version of the trailer, direct references to Muhammad appear to be the result of post-production changes to the movie. Either actors aren't seen when the name "Muhammad" is spoken in the overdubbed sound, or they appear to be mouthing something else as the name of the prophet is spoken.

"The entire cast and crew are extremely upset and feel taken advantage of by the producer," said the statement, obtained by the Los Angeles Times. "We are 100 percent not behind this film and were grossly misled about its intent and purpose. We are shocked by the drastic rewrites of the script and lies that were told to all involved. We are deeply saddened by the tragedies that have occurred."

One of the actresses, Cindy Lee Garcia, told KERO-TV in Bakersfield that the film was originally titled "Desert Warriors" and the script did not contain offensive references to Islam.

"When I found out this movie had caused all this havoc, I called Sam and asked him why, what happened, why did he do this? I said, 'Why did you do this to us, to me and to us?' And he said, 'Tell the world that it wasn't you that did it, it was me, the one who wrote the script, because I'm tired of the radical Muslims running around killing everyone,'" she said.

Garcia said the director, who called himself Sam Bacile, told her then that he was Egyptian.

The man identifying himself as Bacile told the AP he was an Israeli-born, 56-year-old Jewish writer and director. But a Christian activist involved in the film project, Steve Klein, told the AP on Wednesday that Bacile was a pseudonym and that the man was Christian. Klein had told the AP on Tuesday that the filmmaker was an Israeli Jew who was concerned for family members who live in Egypt.

About 15 key players from the Middle East — people from Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Pakistan and Iran, and a couple of Coptic Christians from Egypt — worked on the film, Klein said.

"Most of them won't tell me their real names because they're terrified," Klein said.

An official of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Los Angeles said in a statement Thursday that the church's adherents had no involvement in the "inflammatory movie about the prophet of Islam." An official identified as Bishop Serapion of the Coptic Orthodox of Los Angeles, said that "the producers of this movie should be responsible for their actions. The name of our blessed parishioners should not be associated with the efforts of individuals who have ulterior motives."

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups, said Klein is a former Marine and longtime religious-right activist who has helped train paramilitary militias at a California church. It described Klein as founder of Courageous Christians United, which conducts protests outside abortion clinics, Mormon temples and mosques.

Google Inc., which owns YouTube, pulled down the video Wednesday in Egypt, citing a legal complaint. It was still accessible in the U.S. and other countries.


Associated Press writers Gillian Flaccus, Shaya Tayefe Mohajer and Michael Blood in Los Angeles, Tamara Lush in Tampa, Fla., and AP researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report.

Comments

ljreader 1 year, 7 months ago

Well, we've hunted this nut down who was exercising his right to free speech. I'm sure there will be film at 11 in the Middle East of the infidel being arrested. Of course, nothing will appease them. Not apologies from Obama and Hilary. Not even the DOJ videotaping Holder beheading the individual and posting it on the internet would make them happy.

I'm ready for as much effort to be put forth capturing the nutjobs who attacked our embassies- for whatever the excuse du jour might be.

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georgeofwesternkansas 1 year, 7 months ago

What I find fascinating is that we have total control of these people. Nothing more than a cartoon or spoof on old goat boy, and these folks will leave their jobs and start burning buildings.

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Flap Doodle 1 year, 7 months ago

Let's stay on topic here. The topic being that some folks on the sinister side of the aisle would barter away the First Amendment to avoid any future insult to the inflamed dudes in the Middle East.

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tange 1 year, 7 months ago

On the 47% who do not pay Federal Income tax...
(Sometimes insight arrives in unexpected ways. Sometimes, for folks with "R" names or "R" affiliations, it doesn't seem to arrive at all.)

Not long ago, I was asked by a friend to assist with income tax preparation. I had the software, so I verified some numbers. I already had completed my own return, and, even after having large sums withheld from my earnings, I ended up writing a sizable check to the IRS. Interestingly, not only did my friend NOT pay any Federal Income taxes s/he received a whopper of a tax credit.

It occurred to me that my tax payments had effectively provided my friend's tax credit—the sort of "wealth redistribution" that folks with "R" affiliations seem incessantly to whine about. But not so, for me. As it turns out, my friend works as hard as I do (each of us serving others in some regard), often putting in MORE hours than do I. In the end, we're both able to maintain comfortable lifestyles, albethem nowhere approaching anything like a triple-digit income nor, at the other end of the spectrum, the realities facing the working poor.

So, one of us represents the 47% and the other apparently the 53.
We are virtually indistinguishable in terms of productivity and service to others.

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Hoots 1 year, 7 months ago

The film was an excuse. How often have Muslims attacked and defamed the Christian or Jewish faith? These people are like the guy that gets in a fight every weekend and has some lame excuse like he looked at my girlfriend, they spilled beer on me, they looked at me funny, etc. A culture that at one time was on the cutting edge of science and mathematics allowed radicals to take them into ruin several hundred years ago and they haven't looked back. I say cut off their funding and leave them to kill each other as they please. We'll never fix this. The world just needs to leave them alone until they grow up. We have our own problems to fix first anyway. Religion seems to be the most destructive force over all history. How many people have died over the centuries in the name of religion and how many more are to come? I grew up with religion but I'm sick or it and the destruction it causes.

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Armstrong 1 year, 7 months ago

What a quandry. Stick up for free speech or stick up for the Muslims. Must be tough being a liberal

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Flap Doodle 1 year, 7 months ago

In other words, you'd give him the death penalty, right, Paul? How progressive of you.

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Paul R Getto 1 year, 7 months ago

Free speech also means being accountable for what one says. Send him on a Middle East tour with a sign board: "I made the film....want to discuss it?"

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oldbaldguy 1 year, 7 months ago

I can't say what the troops called Arabs, probably still do . Most of these poor fools are as ignorant as the day they were born. I have met some that went to Oxford and studied Shakespeare. We were interrogating them after they surrendered and left there Kurdish draftees to die. This all happening for a reason. Most of them hate us.

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Flap Doodle 1 year, 7 months ago

In other news: "...Around 10,000 people participated in the main rally organised on The Mall by the Tehreek Hurmat-i-Rasool (THR). The participants marched from Nila Gumbad to Masjid-i-Shuhada on The Mall. Despite a ban on rallies on The Mall, the road remained blocked for vehicular traffic from noon to 6pm. The rally was addressed by Jamatud Dawa chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, THR head Ameer Hamza, JD leader Hafiz Abdul Rehman Makki, Pakistan Muslim League (Zia) head Ijazul Haq, Jamaat Ulema Islam-Sami (JUI-S) leader Asim Makhdoom and Jamaat Ahle Hadith ameer Hafiz Abdul Ghaffar Ropari. One of the participants of the rally, Abdullah Ismail, passed away after he was taken to Mayo Hospital. Witnesses said he had complained of feeling unwell from the smoke from US flags burnt at the rally...." http://tribune.com.pk/story/437772/ultimatum-to-us-criminalise-blasphemy-or-lose-consulate/

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tange 1 year, 7 months ago

Identified: man responsible for inflammatory film...

/ where's Uggie when you need him?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3n-I4gBNcDo

_

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Gotland 1 year, 7 months ago

All you “liberals” are content with being ruled by the foreign Islamic mob? This is enough for me to want to create my own separate country. May you all live forever.

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tomatogrower 1 year, 7 months ago

And if he wasn't trying to incite a riot, why did he make the version in the Arabic language and make sure it was viewed in the middle east? I don't think South Park and Bill Maher are translated to middle eastern languages.

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tomatogrower 1 year, 7 months ago

He supposedly raised 5 million to make this film, but everyone says it doesn't even look like it took a million to make. More fraud? I'll bet he was able to pay his fine.

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yourworstnightmare 1 year, 7 months ago

Wow, that trailer sucks. What a cheesy piece of crap. Producing such a piece of crap should itself be grounds for arrest.

Are we sure the riots in muslim countries aren't because of lousy and amateurish film making?

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Mixolydian 1 year, 7 months ago

Just go on Youtube and search for "Burn Koran" or "Draw Mohammed day." There's plenty there to set off muslim riots for several decades. Or take Bill Maher's Religulous, totaly mocks islam as does South Park, etc etc etc. What about Obama and Biden traveling around the country spiking the ball over kiling OBL? There's no dearth of material for muslims to riot over.

It's stupid to focus on this video. It's disturbing to see the US federal government take this guy into custody the way they did. He's facing a technical parole violation, i.e., getting on the internet. They take him into custody with cameras blaring like he's public enemy #1. Disgusting.

November can't come soon enough. .

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jaywalker 1 year, 7 months ago

"This is free speech, immune to criminal prosecution."

'Cept it's not, for exactly the issues you lay out following the above sentence.

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Agnostick 1 year, 7 months ago

While there may be a 99;99% chance that posting this video would lead to violence in Muslim nations... nothing is ironclad. There was no direct call to action, so the "incite" argument is null. This is free speech, immune to criminal prosecution.

That being said...

I believe the actors and actresses that appeared in the movie might have a civil case against Nakoula, especially if this brings violent retribution to their doorstep, or tarnishes their reputations to the point that they can't find work, and that can be proven in court. If they can prove that Nakoula told them one thing, then dubbed other voices over their work, changed lines, etc. .... I say take Nakoula for everything he owns. Reduce him to the point that he's out on the street with nothing but an adult diaper and a half-empty bottle of Powerade that "magically" recycles itself.

For some reason, I'm reminded of another movie:

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MrsPeenman_II 1 year, 7 months ago

Attorney General Eric Holder confirmed Thursday that Justice Department officials were investigating the deaths

Hmmm, more information gushing like a geyser about this guy than the purposeful suppression of info on Hasan at Ft. Hood. Holder is a joke. He is Obama's bestest bud. Now, will they let this Nakoula dude just catch a bullet, or protect him? I think we know that answer.

Free speech? Everywhere liberals want it to be.

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Richard Heckler 1 year, 7 months ago

It is the violent nature of the USA Right Wing that subverted the Republican Party and now own it.

The film makers connections to this RINO hate talk painting others as evil has been pointed out. Some in congress and the past White House need to watch their rhetoric about who and what is evil.

This Rt Wing Libertarian Neocon Fundamentalist Tea Party for Economic Terrorism is not a healthy endeavor. Vote the right wing out office in November which does consist of many calling themselves republican (oh how confused they are). YES vote them out.

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tange 1 year, 7 months ago

The failing here is cloistered ignorance, the very deficiency touted/promoted by separatists, focusing upon and amplifying lesser tenets of a faith to the detriment of illuminating and transcendent values.

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atiopatioo 1 year, 7 months ago

Foreign Policy Pres.@AceofSpadesHQ The Muslim Brotherhood president of Egypt ordered Obama to arrest the blasphemer, and he did. #thisisnotamerica 15 Sep 12

No, it’s not. What the Obama administration is doing right now is the antithesis of everything upon which this nation was founded. Kudos, champ! In the administration’s despicable attempts to blame a film for violence and deaths at our embassies, all as a way to justify its own failed and deadly policies of appeasement, they are condemning free speech and trying to make it a criminal act.

As Twitchy reported, the Pentagon called a private American citizen to ask him to withdraw his support for the film. Then, the administration asked YouTube to take down the video, all while investigating the filmmaker. Next, in a chilling display, they brought him in for questioning. His crime? CrimeThink. Secretary of State Clinton shamelessly and shamefully again blamed free speech while flanked with the coffins of the four Americans killed in Libya. Americans who exemplified our ideals and principles. Americans who fought for the very freedom she condemned.

This is not America.

http://twitchy.com/2012/09/16/this-is-not-america-blood-boiling-over-criminalization-of-filmmaker-quashing-of-free-speech/

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beatrice 1 year, 7 months ago

Of course the speech in the film is protected. Yes, Americans are allowed to do things that people in other countries might not like and may use as the issue to rally support for anti-American attacks. We cannot blame the film on the attacks, but can only blame the attackers.

That said, Americans are also allowed to leave their keys in their unlocked cars parked on the street, hand out their social security numbers, pay their bills on line without using a network security system, flash cash at bars late at night in unfamiliar nightclubs, etc... Sometimes, prudent protection against the criminal element is in order, even if one doesn't legally need to take those precautions.

To argue that the person shouldn't have made the film is no more siding with the attackers than is telling someone to lock their car siding with auto thieves.

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Liberty_One 1 year, 7 months ago

According to the Supreme Court, in order to face any criminal sanction you must incite specific illegal acts along the lines of "let's beat him up!" or something like that. Brandenburg v. Ohio, 295 U.S. 444 (1969).

Making a video that mocks Islam is protected speech under the First Amendment, even if it is in poor taste and could lead to a violent backlash.

While this fellow may still face issues for the fraud he committed and the violation of probation, there is no case against him regarding this video he made as it is protected speech under the Constitution. Any lawyer would be able to get him acquitted of any charges related to this video and protected speech.

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Flap Doodle 1 year, 7 months ago

There are lots of fellow travelers of the Islamic terrorists here in America who will be ready to put Nakoula's head in a noose.

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deec 1 year, 7 months ago

Freedom of speech is not unlimited.

"Inciting a riot is a crime, it is not protected by the first amendment. The four American lives lost in Libya were caused by this hate film. It was intentionally translated into Arabic, and uploaded to ‘YouTube’. Minister Terry Ford of Florida promoted this film. This is his second effort to defame the religion of Islam. You may remember he burned a stack of Qurans previously.

I am in no way condoning the murders or the rioting by Islamic extremists. Using the popular social media to insure the movie was viewed by the terrorist groups among the Arabic world is criminal. This film ignited the fire of hate and aided this extreme group in the recruiting of young men who may not have previously held such an extreme and violent view of America."

http://guardianlv.com/2012/09/anti-american-protest-free-speech-or-inciting-a-riot/

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Armstrong 1 year, 7 months ago

I see Eric Holder is on the job. LMAO.

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SageonPage 1 year, 7 months ago

Who cares what religion or church he is with? He is guaranteed rights of Free Speech because of our constitution, Government needs to shut up and leave him alone! I don't care what his film says about the fool muhammed.

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rockchalk1977 1 year, 7 months ago

Looks like the religious bigots are starting to roll out of bed.

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beatrice 1 year, 7 months ago

Organized religion is the true root of all evil.

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voevoda 1 year, 7 months ago

We should not defame the Coptic faith. There is nothing nutty about it, as anyone knowledgable about that church can testify. That rogue filmmaker is not any more representative of his church than Osama bin Laden was representative of Islam or Fred Phelps is representative of the Baptist Church.

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Paul R Getto 1 year, 7 months ago

Read up on the Coptics. They make some of our local nuts (Muscuar Sam for example) look pretty tame. This all goes back to the J-ster and whether he is more god than man or more man than god.....fascinating

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