Thursday, September 13, 2012

Mystery Surrounds True Identity of Person Who Produced Anti-Muslim Film That Triggered Demonstrations

Mystery surrounds the anti-Muslim video that was at the center of demonstrations Tuesday at the U.S. embassy in Egypt and the U.S. consulate in Libya (as well as elsewhere since).  As previously reported, a person who said his name was "Sam Bacile" and who identified himself as a California real estate developer and an Israeli Jew claimed to be the producer of the film Innocence of Muslims. Now, however, both CNN and AP report that this is likely a fictional identity. Israel's Foreign Ministry says it has no record of anyone by that name as an Israeli citizen, and searches of public records in the United States turn up nothing for him. Anti-Muslim activist Steve Klein says he was a script consultant for the film. Klein heads an anti-Mulsim group known as Concerned Citizens for the First Amendment.  The Southern Poverty Law Center says Klein is a former Marine and religious-right activist who has helped train paramilitary militias at a California church.  He founded Courageous Christians United which conducts protests outside abortion clinics, Mormon temples and mosques.

Meanwhile, in California, a Coptic Christian, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, says he was the manager for the company that produced the film. In 2010, Nakoula pleaded guilty to federal bank fraud charges. AP points to evidence that suggests Nakoula could be the person posing as Bacile. And the Washington Post reports on more inconsistencies: the cast and crew of the film claim they were misled about the intent and purpose of the film and were not told about later drastic re-writes of the script. Apparently the permit for producing the film was taken out by California-based Media for Christ. No one appears able to obtain a copy of the full film, leading some to speculate that the full production (as opposed to the 13-minute trailer available online) does not exist.