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Ear to the Ground

Man Behind Controversial Anti-Muslim Film That Sparked Deadly Protests Identified

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Posted on Sep 13, 2012

A screenshot of the film’s trailer from YouTube.

Who is Sam Bacile? It appears major questions surrounding the identity of the man alleged to be behind “The Innocence of Muslims,” the controversial anti-Muhammad film that led to the deadly attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Libya and spurred violent protests in Egypt and Yemen, have been answered.

Here’s the story. It was initially believed that Bacile was an Israeli-American real estate developer who raised roughly $5 million from about 100 Jewish donors to make the film.

But that identity was ultimately revealed to be a fraud. According to The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, a consultant to the film, Steve Klein, told him that Bacile was not Israeli and is most likely not Jewish. Moreover, Klein said that “Sam Bacile” is not even a real name.

Now another man, 55-year-old Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, has been identified as the person behind the anti-Muslim film. Nakoula told The Associated Press that although he was involved in the film, he was not Sam Bacile. However, one U.S. law enforcement official says evidence points to him as being the man behind “The Innocence of Muslims.”

The Associated Press via The Huffington Post:

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation, said Nakoula was connected to the persona of Sam Bacile, a man who initially told the AP he was the film’s writer and director. But Bacile turned out to be a false identity, and the AP traced a cellphone number Bacile used to a southern California house where it located and interviewed Nakoula.

Bacile initially told AP he was Jewish and Israeli, although Israeli officials said they had no records of such a citizen. Others involved in the film said his statements were contrived, as evidence mounted that the film’s key player was a Coptic Christian with a checkered past.

...Federal court papers filed against Nakoula in a 2010 criminal prosecution noted that he had used numerous aliases, including Nicola Bacily, Robert Bacily, Erwin Salameh and others.

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After the release of the filmmaker’s identity, law enforcement personnel were sent to Nakoula’s California home to protect him and his family. According to ABC News, Nakoula is now concerned about the possibility of retaliation.

ABC News:

According to California law enforcement officials, Nakoula, who is also known to authorities as Bacily Nakoula, was frightened for his life and “scared of retaliation” against his family.

Sheriffs from the Cerritos police station were sent to his home to keep Nakoula safe and to provide a uniformed presence to assist the members from the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, official reports said.

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