The day before the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, Christian preacher Terry Jones (C) lectures a crowd in Times Square about his strong critisim of Islam, on September 10, 2011 in New York City. Calling Islam a 'false religion,' a radical Jones supervised the burning of a Koran, the holy book of Islam, on March 20, 2011.
Credit: Chip Somodevilla

Terry Jones and a man going by the name Sam Bacile have been said to be behind "Innocence of Muslims," the controversial, low-budget film behind the protests at US Embassies in Cairo and Benghazi. Amid the protests in Benghazi, US officials suspect a planned attack killed US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others. 

Separately, the Associated Press reported it had tracked down the manager for the company that produced "Innocence of Muslims," a California Coptic Christian convicted of financial crimes named Nakoula Basseley Nakoula.

An address traced to Nakoula's cell phone, as well as an alias listed in federal court papers suggested that Nakoula and Bacile may be the same person, the AP reported. In an interview with the AP outside Los Angeles, Nakoula denied that he directed the film and said he knew Bacile, who supported the concerns of Christian Copts about their treatment by Muslims.

The authenticity of the film, and its creators' identities, are now being called into question. Some sites are questioning whether a complete film even exists, wondering if "Innocence of Muslims" doesn't amount to more than a 14 minute-long, strange clip posted online.

Individuals claiming to have worked on the film have come forward to dispute various accounts of who made the film and why. Most recently, one of the film's actresses, Cindy Lee Garcia, told Gawker that she had no idea the film she was acting in would be about religion.

More from GlobalPost: US consulates in Benghazi and Cairo attacked over film deemed insulting to Prophet Muhammad

The D-list video portrays the Prophet Muhammad "as a child of uncertain parentage, a buffoon, a womanizer, a homosexual, a child molester and a greedy, bloodthirsty thug," as The New York Times explained.


But Garcia said the name Muhammad didn't even come up during her brief participation in the filming, and that her original lines have been dubbed over.

"It was going to be a film based on how things were 2,000 years ago," Garcia told Gawker by phone. "I had nothing to do really with anything. Now we have people dead because of a movie I was in. It makes me sick."

A 14-minute "trailer" of the movie was posted on YouTube by "Sam Bacile" in July, but the video spread widely on the Internet after a version was dubbed over in Arabic. 

Who are Bacile and Jones, exactly? And how did their movie end up wreaking international havoc? 

"Sam Bacile": The film's supposed creator

Credit for the writing, production and direction of the film has been attributed to a man going by the name "Sam Bacile," who is reportedly in hiding over the ensuing outrage, the National Post reported. Bacile was first said to be a 50-something-year-old Israeli American who works as a real estate developer in California, a claim that an alleged consultant working on the film denied in an interview with the Atlantic.

A person calling himself Sam Bacile told reporters over the phone from an undisclosed location today that he made the film for $5 million, which he raised from 100 Jewish donors.

There is growing confusion and skepticism over Bacile's identity as well as the film's validity. 

Religious Dispatches magazine first pointed out some inconsistencies in the man's back story. Steve Klein, the supposed consultant who the Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg interviewed, said he was approached by Bacile because of his reputation for leading anti-Islam protests. Klein described himself to Goldberg as a "militant Christian activist in Riverside, California."

Klein told the Atlantic that "Bacile, the producer of the film, is not Israeli, and most likely not Jewish," and that he is unsure of Bacile's real name. 

The International Business Times pointed out that Klein is also a "shadowy figure."

"He apparently authored a self-published book on Islam (with a poorly designed cover), but aside from that, he has not left many tracks," the IBT reported. 

The full film has not been screened yet, Bacile told the Times of Israel from a "California number." The IBT and others have wondered if there even is a full film.

"Bacile," who has no previous experience in filmmaking, described the movie as an exploration of how Coptic Christians in Egypt are oppressed, the Telegraph reported

"The main problem is I am the first one to put on the screen someone who is [portraying] Mohammed. It makes them mad," Bacile reportedly said. "But we have to open the door. After 9/11 everybody should be in front of the judge, even Jesus, even Mohammed."

Terry Jones: The promotional force

The controversial preacher at the Dove World Outreach Center church in Gainesville, Florida, first garnered global attention when he went against the US government's direct pleas to burn a Koran in March 2011. 

Jones, a Missouri native who according to his biography worked his way through the hotel industry before spending over 35 years as a Christian missionary in Europe, is at it again as the quiet but powerful promoter of Bacile's film. 

Jones, who has not earned a formal degree in theology, has taken an extremist stance against Islam for much of his career. Not only did he incite a Koran burning in September 2011 before he was ordered to stop by US President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (yep, that was before he went and burnt one anyway), but he also hosted "International Judge Mohammed Day" on this year's September 11 anniversary, where he asked the world to "put Mohammed on trial." 

He also is the author of "Islam is of the Devil," a book denouncing the religion. 

Jones is also currently running as an independent candidate for the US presidency. 

Here, a 2010 profile of Jones by ABC News

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