Nakoula Basseley Nakoula identified as filmmaker behind anti-Islam film


Egyptian protesters clash with riot police near the US embassy in Cairo on September 13, 2012. Police used tear gas as they clashed with a crowd protesting outside the US embassy in Cairo against a film mocking Islam.



Nakoula Basseley Nakoula has been identified by federal authorities as the filmmaker behind the anti-Islam film that sparked violent protests in Egypt and Libya, according to the Associated Press.

A Coptic Christian living in southern California, Nakoula was identified as the man behind "Innocence of Muslims," a film that insulted Islam and the Prophet Muhammad, leading to protests spreading across the Middle East, North Africa, and elsewhere.

On Wednesday, Nakoula told authorities he was the manager of the company that produced "Innocence of Muslims," but denied that he was "Sam Bacile," according to the BBC.

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Sam Bacile is the name credited as the writer and director of the film. Doubts about Sam Bacile's identity cropped up on Wednesday, amid speculation that the name was a pseudonym.

Reports about Sam Bacile have claimed that he is an Israeli Jew, but Steve Klein, a member of a far-right anti-Islamic Christian group, told ABC News that he was probably Arab Christian. "I've met him twice. He is not a citizen of Israel. He is in hiding," said Klein.

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According to the AP, Nakoula was involved in a criminal prosecution in 2010, which revealed that he has used many aliases, including Nicola Bacily, Robert Bacily, Erwin Salameh and more.

Controversial Pastor Terry Jones, who sparked outrage by burning Korans on the ninth anniversary of 9/11 and has been reported to have had a role producing "Innocence of Muslims," said, "I have not met him. Sam Bacile, that is not his real name," according to CBS News. "He is definitely in hiding and does not reveal his identity. He was quite honestly fairly shook up concerning the events and what is happening. A lot of people are not supporting him. He was generally a little shook up concerning this situation."

ABC News reported that Nakoula called police to his California home because he is frightened for his life. According to a sheriff, the police were at Nakoula's house overnight, as media reports identified him and his address circulated.

The AP noted that Nakoula had a checkered past with the law, pleading no contest to federal bank fraud charges in 2010 in California for setting up fraudulent bank accounts with stolen identities.

A crew member who worked on the film told the Los Angeles Times that the cast and crew had no idea the film was anti-Islamic. He said they were led to believe it was a war drama called "Desert Warriors," and that the dialogue heard in the trailer was recorded after the actors left. Actors who starred in the film have said the same.

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