Update (thanks to BlueCat): Oh, and he’s also a meth cooker.
Who made the film, “Innocence of Muslims,” that stirred up protests so violent they cost America’s ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, who was enormously popular with Libyans, his life?
Yesterday, that man was “Sam Bacile,” who described himself as a Jew who had raised $5 million for the film from wealthy Israeli donors.
Today, the Associated Press has identified “Bacile” as Nakoula Bassely Nakoula, a Coptic Christian convicted of financial crimes including federal bank fraud. Convicted in 2010, sentenced to 21 months and nearly $800,000 restitution, and ordered to avoid using computers for five years without permission from his parole officer, Nakoula apparently still managed to post his inflammatory video clip on YouTube. As recently as Tuesday, the AP says, “Sam Bacile” was still posting angry comments on YouTube.
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.”
Nakoula, apparently a seasoned con artist, didn’t stop at defrauding banks, or even at parole violations. He even scammed the actors and crew members who helped him make the movie which cost four Americans their lives. According to cast and crew members, Nakoula (in his “Sam Bacile” persona) cast them in a movie that did not include a Mohammed character and was not anti-Muslim:
The entire cast and crew are extremely upset and feel taken advantage of by the producer. We are 100% not behind this film and were grossly misled about its intent and purpose. We are shocked by the drastic re-writes of the script and lies that were told to all involved. We are deeply saddened by the tragedies that have occurred.
An actress in the film, talking to Gawker’s Adrian Chen, claims that all of the film’s offensive dialogue was over-dubbed, not spoken by actors:
“It was going to be a film based on how things were 2,000 years ago,” Garcia said. “It wasn’t based on anything to do with religion, it was just on how things were run in Egypt. There wasn’t anything about Muhammed or Muslims or anything.”
In the script and during the shooting, nothing indicated the controversial nature of the final product, now called Muslim Innocence. Muhammed wasn’t even called Muhammed; he was “Master George,” Garcia said. The word “Muhammed” was dubbed over in post-production, as were essentially all other offensive references to Islam and Muhammed.
Nakoula’s scurrilous attempt to blame Jews for his production was yet another lie–in fact, he speaks Arabic (as shown on the “Sam Bacile” account’s YouTube comments) and told his actors he was Egyptian:
Garcia said Bacile told her he was Egyptian on set. Bacile had white hair and spoke Arabic to a number of “dark-skinned” men who hung around the set, she said. (A Bacile associate also told The Atlantic he wasn’t Israeli or Jewish.)
Violent protests also occurred in Egypt, where Coptic Christians like Nakoula were likely endangered along with Americans. Nakoula, a California resident, managed the impressive feat of risking the lives of two sets of his own countrymen in one fell blow.
Christian activist Steve Klein, who was involved with “Innocence of Muslims,” admitted to the AP that he knew “Bacile” was not Jewish, and that numerous individuals from the Middle East were involved with the phone:
About 15 key players from the Middle East – from Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Pakistan, Iran and a couple 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. “He was really scared and now he’s so nervous. He’s turned off his phone.”
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.
Klein also admitted that Nakoula and Klein knew their film would provoke violence
Klein told the AP that he vowed to help make the movie but warned the filmmaker that “you’re going to be the next Theo van Gogh.” Van Gogh was a Dutch filmmaker killed by a Muslim extremist in 2004 after making a film that was perceived as insulting to Islam.
“We went into this knowing this was probably going to happen,” Klein said.
So, let’s put the pieces together:
15 people from the Middle East worked with an Egyptian convicted felon and a Christian paramilitary militia leader on a coordinated project.
They used false names and kept even those who worked with them in the dark about their goals.
Although the main players were Christian and residents of the United States, they attempted to cast blame on Jews and Israel for their work.
They lied about where their money came from and, in at least one case, stole.
They knew as they worked on this project that the likely outcome would be violence, including violence against Americans, and including violence in the home countries of many of the key players.
After completing their work, the main player immediately went into hiding, lied about his age, lied about his nationality, and asked for police protection. Meanwhile, his deputies covered his trail and assisted in his lies.
What about this is not terrorism?
The PATRIOT Act was sold to America as legislation that would give Homeland Security officials the broad authority they needed to capture and punish those who seek to influence American policy by creating chaos, violence, disorder, and destruction. It includes specific provisions to punish those who finance terrorism and those who incite others to commit terrorism. In fact, broader latitude to punish incitement to terrorism was one of the key–and one of the most controversial–facets of the legislation that we were told we needed, without which we were told terrorists could cause the deaths of Americans and walk free.
Nakoula Bassely Nakoula, if he has done all that he is alleged to have done, is a terrorist who knowingly took premeditated action to incite violence against Americans and Christians. Further, he attempted to endanger the lives of Jews and Israelis as well by implicating them in a project that does not appear to have had the involvement of a single Israeli or Jew. Thirdly, he endangered the lives of his own cast and crew by editing his film and dubbing over its audio to make ordinary actors appear to be saying inflammatory and hateful things. This heartless felon and convicted fraudster was willing not only to put at risk his own life (albeit not without a plan to obscure his identity and blame others) but the lives of people who didn’t even know what they were working on.
Sounds like someone we all remember–someone who, like Nakoula, was safely in hiding in another country while his own countrymen died for his hateful and ignorant beliefs. Someone who, like Nakoula, did not hesitate to put others in harms way to protect himself. Someone who, like Nakoula, with premeditation and intent, caused the deaths of Americans. Someone who, thank God, is no longer a threat to the United States or to his own people, having been killed by US Navy Seals.
Homeland Security authorities know where Nakoula is, as he has reportedly requested police protection. One can only hope that the police are also “protecting” this terrorist from fleeing the country before someone reads the USA-PATRIOT Act, notices that he meets every qualification for incitement to terrorism in it, and places him under arrest.