Anti-Islam movie producer faked identity, duped cast, crew

Published: September 15, 2012
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Identified himself as an Israeli American but may be a Coptic Christian from California. PHOTO: FILE

Identified himself as an Israeli American but may be a Coptic Christian from California. PHOTO: FILE

As fresh details emerge on the origin of the anti-Islam movie that has caused global uproar for its blasphemous content, CNN reported on Friday that the movie’s producer is not an Israeli-American, and the cast was ‘grossly misled’ into the project.

The 14-minute clip posted on YouTube prompted global condemnation and protests, and resulted in the death of the US Ambassador to Libya, along with three more Americans.

Details of the origin of the movie, however, were murky from the onset.

The filmmaker initially identified himself as Sam Bacile, and told the Wall Street Journal that he was a 52-year-old Israeli-American real estate developer from California. He said Jewish donors had financed his film.

But Israel’s Foreign Ministry said there was no record of a Sam Bacile with Israeli citizenship, according to CNN.

Coptic Christian

US federal officials, however, consider Bacile to be Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who was convicted of a bank fraud in 2009.

When CNN inquired about Sam Bassil, the US attorney’s office sent a copy of a 2009 indictment which showed the bank fraud conviction for a man named Nakoula Basseley Nakoula.

Several other aliases – Mark Basseley Youssef, Yousseff M Basseley, Nicola Bacily and Malid Ahlawi – were all listed as aliases in the indictment. Other court documents listed Thomas J. Tanas, Ahmad Hamdy and Erwin Salameh also as aliases.

A production staff member who worked on the film in its initial stages told CNN that an entirely different name was filed on the paperwork for the Screen Actors Guild: Abenob Nakoula Bassely. A public records search showed an Abanob B Nakoula residing at the same address as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula.

He believed the filmmaker was a Coptic Christian and when the two spoke on the phone during production, the filmmaker said he was in Alexandria, Egypt, raising money for the film. There has been a long history of animosity between Muslims and the minority Copts in Egypt.

Cast and crew misled

The 80 cast and crew members involved in the making of the movie said on Wednesday they were “grossly misled” about its intent and expressed sorrow over the resulting violence.

“The entire cast and crew are extremely upset and feel taken advantage of by the producer,” they said in a statement to CNN about the movie, “Innocence of Muslims.”

“We are 100% not behind this film and were grossly misled about its intent and purpose,” continued the statement, which was sent to CNN by a member of the production staff who asked not to be identified. “We are shocked by the drastic rewrites of the script and lies that were told to all involved,” the statement added.

A casting call published in July 2011 in Backstage magazine and in other publications identifies the working title of the movie as “Desert Warrior” and describes it as a “historical Arabian Desert adventure film.”

Published in The Express Tribune, September 15th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (10)

  • Indian Wisdom
    Sep 15, 2012 - 10:13AM

    “Historical Arabian Desert adventure film.”- No doubt the adventurism has taken a new low and has ventured into very murky and filthy water of deception and fraud. More amusing is Mr. Nakoula Basseley Nakoula identified himself as an Israeli Jew and claimed to have generated fund from 100 Jews. He knew exactly how to promote his film by putting the right explosive ingredients. Unfortunately the fire he started was reciprocated by Muslims all over the world who were not able to see through yet another fraud of the man who has already been convicted in the bank frauds.

    “Historical Arabian Desert adventure film.”- Though earlier it was anything but Historical Arabian Adventure film but now it has definitely become “Historical International Misadventure film”!!!

    Recommend

  • Cheyenne blackhawk
    Sep 15, 2012 - 1:35PM

    I feel because this has caused death and distruction that the person responseble should be made an example of. Freedom of speech as long as no one is hurt. People have been killed. Riots and damage has been done. Not just in one country but many. This guy should be sent to prison for many years.Recommend

  • IceSoul
    Sep 16, 2012 - 3:47AM

    @Cheyenne blackhawk: The film-maker has not killed anyone. Nor has he rioted or done any damage to life or property.

    Recommend

  • Imran
    Sep 16, 2012 - 1:56PM

    Freedom of speech is not permitted by Western media & social networking sites when it comes to anti semitism remarks (which I also don’t like), and there YouTube and Facebook has a serious problem, but how can making mockery of Muslims and our religion be permitted ? Why double standards? Can everyone learns to respect other faiths and everyone has zero tolerance of offensive material like this under the pretext of freedom of speech?

    Recommend

  • Asad
    Sep 16, 2012 - 7:05PM

    One correction ET the death of the US ambassador wasn’t caused by the protesters it was planned by salafi extremist group which took advantage of the situation and had planned this attack before the film was released.

    Recommend

  • Hasan
    Sep 16, 2012 - 9:33PM

    The backlash against this film has so far resulted in the deaths of six US soldiers in Afghanistan – which goes to show that every cloud has its silver lining.

    Hasan

    Recommend

  • IceSoul
    Sep 17, 2012 - 1:14AM

    @Hasan: So you support the murder of US soldiers in Afghanistan? Do you. therefore, support the Taliban? Keep in mind that the Taliban have killed more than 40,000 Pakistanis. Pick the side your on and stick to it.

    Recommend

  • Hasan
    Sep 17, 2012 - 9:11PM

    @IceSoul:

    I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you’re asking me an open-ended question, instead of trying to force some naive agenda down my throat.

    None of the other NATO member states’ soldiers have the same record as American GIs when it comes to human rights violations. British, Dutch, Canadian, Australian, these troops have carried out their mission with relatively little controversy.

    I would suggest that you do some research into the sub-human level of primitive savagery that has been demonstrated by the US soldiers, however – savagery which is not even confined to the innocent civilians of the occupied land, but which is also directed at their own contingent of female personnel. Even before the Pentagon threw the doors open to recruit sex criminals and juvenile delinquents, the US Army had an appaling record for maintaining law and order amongst its own ranks – nowadays, however, every couple of days brings a new story about their mindless brutality, typically carried out against unarmed and defenceless civilians. They are monsters, they are savages, and they deserve nothing more than what these Afghans did to them.

    I hope that answers your question.

    HasanRecommend

  • American Desi
    Sep 17, 2012 - 10:58PM

    @Imran:
    You are wrong! In US you can find Nazi sympathizers, anti-Semites, White Supremacists etc., freely expressing their opinions. Freedom of Expression is enshrined in our great constitution. If my expression of ideas hurting you or anyone else please tune yourself out! Recommend

  • fukajin
    Sep 17, 2012 - 11:15PM

    @Cheyenne blackhawk:
    Or you know, maybe those people could have not murdered Americans thousands of miles away from California who had nothing to do with the film. You are blaming the wrong group. And Freedom of Speech is designed specifically for this kind of thing. Its not “Freedom of Speech unless someone gets hurt.” It is “1st Amendment: prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.”

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