The Coptic Christian in California behind the anti-Islamic film
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a Coptic Christian, says that he helped with logistics for the film "Innocence of Muslims," which mocked Muslims. He denied directing the film. But there's evidence to suggest the filmmaker, Sam Bacile is an alias, which is strikingly similar to Nakoula's middle name.
The search for those behind the provocative, anti-Muslim film implicated in violent protests in Egypt and Libya led Wednesday to a California Coptic Christian convicted of financial crimes who acknowledged his role in managing and providing logistics for the production.Skip to next paragraph
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Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, told The Associated Press in an interview outside Los Angeles that he helped with logistics for the filming of "Innocence of Muslims," which mocked Muslims and the prophet Muhammad and may have caused inflamed mobs that attacked U.S. missions in Egypt and Libya. He provided the first details about a shadowy production group behind the film.
Nakoula denied he directed the film and said he knew the self-described filmmaker, Sam Bacile. But the cell phone number that AP contacted Tuesday to reach the filmmaker who identified himself as Sam Bacile traced to the same address near Los Angeles where AP found Nakoula. Federal court papers said Nakoula's aliases included Nicola Bacily, Erwin Salameh and others.
Nakoula told the AP that he was a Coptic Christian and said the film's director supported the concerns of Christian Copts about their treatment by Muslims.
Nakoula denied he had posed as Bacile. During a conversation outside his home, he offered his driver's license to show his identity but kept his thumb over his middle name, Basseley. Records checks by the AP subsequently found it and other connections to the Bacile persona.
The AP located Bacile after obtaining his cell phone number from Morris Sadek, a conservative Coptic Christian in the U.S. who had promoted the anti-Muslim film in recent days on his website. Egypt's Christian Coptic population has long decried what they describe as a history of discrimination and occasional violence from the country's Arab majority.
Pastor Terry Jones of Gainesville, Fla., who burned Qurans on the ninth anniversary of 9/11, said he spoke with the movie's director on the phone Wednesday and prayed for him. He said he has not met the filmmaker in person, but the man contacted him a few weeks ago about promoting the movie.
"I have not met him. Sam Bacile, that is not his real name," Jones said. "I just talked to him on the phone. 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."
The film was implicated in protests that resulted in the burning of the U.S. consulate Tuesday in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi.