Archive for Thursday, September 13, 2012

US identifies man responsible for inflammatory film

September 13, 2012


— 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.


Paul R Getto 5 years, 8 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

voevoda 5 years, 8 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.

Paul R Getto 5 years, 8 months ago

Not meaning to defame, sorry. I guess it amuses me they spent the first 300 years of the "new" religion arguing about the oldest story we have---gods breeding with humans.

beatrice 5 years, 8 months ago

Organized religion is the true root of all evil.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 8 months ago

As well as some of the greatest acts of goodness man has ever seen. Funny thing, that, religion.

Stuart Evans 5 years, 8 months ago

People do good things without religion all the time. Imagine how much good would have been done in the world if it weren't countered by so many negatives.

gbulldog 5 years, 8 months ago

Bible talks about certain people being under the control of Satan

Paul R Getto 5 years, 8 months ago

I disagree, but humans are weak and the religious codes are so hard to live up to.

beatrice 5 years, 8 months ago

Wow. I've never know you to be correct in your predictions before. Congrats.

beatrice 5 years, 8 months ago

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

Carol Bowen 5 years, 8 months ago

Of course, that means we do not have to offer them protection. Why did we protect the minister in Florida?

Armstrong 5 years, 8 months ago

I see Eric Holder is on the job. LMAO.

gbulldog 5 years, 8 months ago

How is the indictment going against Holder? Or is he another "Slick" Willy?

deec 5 years, 8 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."

deec 5 years, 8 months ago

You'll need to take your argument up with the government, which has passed laws that forbid inciting a riot.

jhawkinsf 5 years, 8 months ago

deec, I have a question. Our laws, our Constitutional rights do have limits placed on them. I agree with you that limits might be placed on freedom of speech if they might reasonably incite violence. However, I wonder if those limits apply when the inciting of violence comes in foreign countries and in foreign cultures, where the standards of what might "reasonably" incite violence might be very different than what might "reasonably" incite violence here, in our country, in our culture. Do you have specific knowledge about what standards might apply in this particular case? After all, the film in question produced no violence here, no riots, nothing other than discussion. Isn't that exactly the type of freedom of speech that is protected here?

tomatogrower 5 years, 8 months ago

Oh please. This guy was trying to incite a riot. He deliberately kicked a rabid dog. He is happy he got this reaction. He's also a liar according to the actors. And probably a fraud, considering he raised so much money to make a cheap movie.

notaubermime 5 years, 8 months ago

What would your guess be of the number of people involved in the Libyan demonstrations whom actually had access to YouTube, understand English (the language used in the preview), and actually saw the video? My guess is next to none. My guess is that the people actually inciting those demonstrators by inflaming passions over a poor quality video made by a criminal are not even citizens of this country.

Do you remember the "Piss Christ"? That was intentionally offensive to Christians and it got funded by the government. The Bill of Rights protects one's freedom of speech, especially when it is not popular.

If you want to blame someone, blame these countries who do not understand our laws. Blame the countries that do not respect our customs and try to pressure us to conform with their laws and their culture. The irony is that these are places which have spent so long decrying the United States' lack of respect for the same things. Hypocritical fundamentalists exist in every culture, but that does not mean we have to cave-in to their views.

deec 5 years, 8 months ago

The clip was dubbed into Arabic and the dubbed version was released on September 11.

tomatogrower 5 years, 8 months ago

And he dubbed it, just to get the reaction that he wanted.

tomatogrower 5 years, 8 months ago

I do believe that the radical Muslims are violent nuts and should have ignored it. I mean the vast majority of people would have never heard of the stupid thing if it hadn't been for the riots and the murder. But what was the purpose of making the video? What was the purpose of lying to the actors? What was the purpose of dubbing it into Arabic and making sure it got out on you tube. Who started the rumor that the movie was being shown all around the US, instead of some creepy minister's church in Florida. Those questions need answers.

notaubermime 5 years, 8 months ago

What is the purpose of the film and its gratuitous insults? My guess is that the purpose was to insult Islam. If you have to ask about why a Coptic would wish to insult Islam, then you obviously do not know much about the way they are treated in Egypt. One silly video is nothing compared to the institutional discrimination that this man and his family undoubtedly went through.

The only people whom I have any sympathy for are the US embassy workers. Neither they nor the government they represent played any role in this drama and yet they are the ones being targeted.

tbaker 5 years, 8 months ago

Saying "...the four American lives lost in Libya were caused by this hate film" is like saying spoons are responsible for Rosy O’Donnell being fat. Wise up Deec.

Muslim extremists are responsible for the deaths. Movies don't kill people. Other people kill people. Besides, the President of Libya thinks terrorists planned and organized the attack that killed our ambassador in Libya.

(from Al Jazeera) The attack on the US consulate in Benghazi that killed four Americans and ten Libyans was the work of "experienced masterminds" that had been planned well in advance, the Libyan president says.

The movie is just an excuse being used by the Obama administration to shift blame for obvious foriegn policy failure, not to mention operational security, and intelligence failure as well.

Flap Doodle 5 years, 8 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.

gbulldog 5 years, 8 months ago

I have not had a chance to see the video. But how Musilms treat women is enought to appose them. Anyone remember when the Iranians were in school here.

beatrice 5 years, 8 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.

gbulldog 5 years, 8 months ago

Is it still safe to eat a ham sandwich or have bacon with my egss?

beatrice 5 years, 8 months ago

Why wouldn't it be okay? Certainly you aren't actually trying to compare one person making a film with the intent of insulting people of a certain religion with your choice to eat pork, are you? Americans were killed. Try to keep some level of perspective.

beatrice 5 years, 8 months ago

Do you actually know the meaning of either of those words?

tbaker 5 years, 8 months ago

I agree with you Beatrice -provided - the prudence you argue in favor of was left up to the individual.

If people want to exercise what THEY think is sound judgment and behave in a "prudent" way, that should be their choice to do so, but in no way should government ever try to limit someone's consitutional freedoms simply becuase their speech may be objectionable to someone / some group. Sound OK to you?

Katara 5 years, 8 months ago

Actually, his crime was violation of his probation. He had already been convicted of fraud & ID theft and part of his sentencing was no access to the internet without approval from his probation officer.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 8 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.

Flap Doodle 5 years, 8 months ago

"...Rt Wing Libertarian Neocon Fundamentalist Tea Party for Economic Terrorism..." Cute phrase, but it'll hardly fit on a bumper sticker.

beatrice 5 years, 8 months ago

"RWLNFTP for ET" will.

Or, you can just go with the shorter "Romney 2012."

gbulldog 5 years, 8 months ago

Instead of saying Heil Hitler, USA defeated him, will we in be saying "Heil Obama" and praising Queen Michelle?

beatrice 5 years, 8 months ago

Hitler? Oh sure, because when we think of Hitler don't we all instantly think -- health care reform? Silly Godwin comment.

gbulldog 5 years, 8 months ago

But does the person in Manhattan have a right to file a violations of his civil right because of free speach violations. Fred gets by with it and most people ignore the senile old man. Democrat supporters of Obama have blasphened this gentleman.

jaywalker 5 years, 8 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.

Mixolydian 5 years, 8 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. .

yourworstnightmare 5 years, 8 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?

tomatogrower 5 years, 8 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.

tomatogrower 5 years, 8 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.

beatrice 5 years, 8 months ago

Who is saying making bad films should be illegal? You and others keep making that leap, but nobody is actually making this statement.

Again, it isn't illegal to leave your keys in your unlocked car parked on the street when you go to bed at night, but is it advisable? When your car is stolen, won't people say -- "well, what was he thinking would happen?" That is what people are saying about making a film that is offensive -- what was the person thinking would happen? However, nobody is saying it should be illegal.

notaubermime 5 years, 8 months ago

"Who is saying making bad films should be illegal?"

Tomatogrower. In the post that Gotland was replying to.

beatrice 5 years, 8 months ago

In what way? The words "law" "illegal" "need to make" "criminal action" "should be illegal" do not appear in tomatogrower's comment. How exactly is that statement anywhere close to saying it should be illegal to make a bad film?

jhawkinsf 5 years, 8 months ago

Maybe it's the comment just above tomato's, the one by yourworstnightmare who said it should be "grounds for arrest". Just a guess.

beatrice 5 years, 8 months ago

Context is your friend.

jhf, you need to reread ywn's comment. The context clearly is not about making something illegal, but was a joke based on the film's production value -- kind of like saying someone needs to call the fashion police when someone is poorly dressed. Believe it or not, when people make that statement, there aren't really police who will arrive and arrest someone for bad fashion.

Nice try, but keep spinning.

notaubermime 5 years, 8 months ago

Inciting violence is one of those things that is illegal. It is not necessary to use those other words as they are implied.

notaubermime 5 years, 8 months ago

Considering that he is from Egypt, it might be jumping to conclusions to claim the only reason he made the Arabic version was to anger Muslims. After all, given that he still likely has a lot of friends and family in the Middle East, whom probably speak Arabic, it may also be that the translation into Arabic was so that other Coptic Christians would understand it.

deec 5 years, 8 months ago

The movie was posted to youtube on July 1. The Arabic version was released around September 11.

notaubermime 5 years, 8 months ago

You are still assuming you known his motivations. Have fun with that.

notaubermime 5 years, 8 months ago

So Middle Eastern Muslims are mindless and destructive like fire is? I've never thrown a lit match onto gas and had the fire say "You know, instead of blowing stuff up, why don't I use this energy to build a school."

beatrice 5 years, 8 months ago

Who is content about crime? What liberal has said anything of the sort. Be specific.

Just like Clint Eastwood's "imaginary Obama," you only address imaginary liberals. You make stuff up that nobody says then attribute it to others. How sad that you can't actually deal with what people are truly saying here. Sad indeed.

Enjoy your own country. Don't let the border hit ya on the way out.

Flap Doodle 5 years, 8 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...."

oldbaldguy 5 years, 8 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.

Paul R Getto 5 years, 8 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?"

jhawkinsf 5 years, 8 months ago

When this whole thing broke, it was reported that the filmmaker was an Israeli-American. Of course, those turns out to me untrue. But I wonder if the filmmaker is an American citizen. If not, could he be deported, given he's a convicted criminal and there are allegations that he has violated the terms of his probation.

Flap Doodle 5 years, 8 months ago

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

Armstrong 5 years, 8 months ago

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

Maddy Griffin 5 years, 8 months ago

Not really.The two are not mutually exclusive.

Paul R Getto 5 years, 8 months ago

Well cognitive dissonance plagues both parties.

Hoots 5 years, 8 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.

jafs 5 years, 8 months ago

That's interesting.

Why did your friend qualify for the credits while you had to pay more taxes?

Flap Doodle 5 years, 8 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.

jonas_opines 5 years, 8 months ago

Some on either side of the aisle only care about the First Amendment as long as it's speech they agree with, a movement they agree with, or a religion they adhere to. Others love the second amendment but don't seem to care that much about the fourth, and vice versa.

On the other hand, there are always those who would like to deify the works of man, and hold them exempt from question and analysis. It seems, to me, a mistake to suggest that documents written by fallible human beings 100, 300, 2000, 3000 years ago should be considered exempt from hard analysis of their continuing relevance.

Hell, if we were lucky we might actually start to think about not just What was written, but Why it was written as well.

georgeofwesternkansas 5 years, 8 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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