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'Innocence of Muslims' Trailer: The Truth Behind Filmmaker Sam Bacile

The film "Innocence of Muslims" outraged the Muslim world, causing protests in Egypt and Libya that led to the death of the U.S. ambassador to Libya Stevens. Angry demonstrations over the anti-Islamic film spread to Yemen, where mobs rioted the U.S. embassy in Sana'a and burned two cars. So who is the man behind the 14-minute trailer, which ridicules the Prophet Muhammad ?

By Alyssa Goldman, EnStars on Sep 13, 2012 02:35 PM EDT
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  • "Innocence of Muslims"
  • The film "Innocence of Muslims" ridicules the Prophet Muhammad. (Photo : Screen Shot of 14-minute trailer for "Innocence of Muslims")

The film "Innocence of Muslims" outraged the Muslim world, causing protests in Egypt and Libya that is believed to have led to the death of the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens. Angry demonstrations over the anti-Islamic film spread to Yemen, where mobs rioted the U.S. embassy in Sanaa and burned two cars.

So who is the man behind the 14-minute trailer, which ridicules the Prophet Muhammad ?

He claims to be Sam Bacile, a 52-year-old Israeli-American real estate developer from California. He also said he raised "$5 million from 100 Jewish donors" and produced the film using 60 actors and 45 crew members.

However, Israeli authorities told the Associated Press they had no records of him being a citizen.

"This guy is totally anonymous. At this point no one can confirm he holds Israeli citizenship and even if he did we are not involved," ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said, according to CNN.

Bacile told the "The Wall Street Journal," that "Innocence of Muslims," is "a political effort to call attention to the hypocrisies of Islam," and that he made the film to expose "Islam as a hateful religion." 

"Islam is a cancer," he said. "The movie is a political movie. It's not a religious movie."

Steve Klein, an associate of Bacile, admitted to The Atlantic that the filmmaker's real name is not Bacile.

"I don't know that much about him. I met him, I spoke to him for an hour. He's not Israeli, no," Klein told The Atlantic. "I can tell you this for sure, the state of Israel is not involved, Terry Jones [the radical Christian Quran-burning pastor] is not involved. His name is a pseudonym. All these Middle Eastern folks I work with have pseudonyms. I doubt he's Jewish. I would suspect this is a disinformation campaign."

According to NPR, the AP might have tracked down the real "Sam Bacile." Their reporters traced Bacile's cell phone number to the address of a man named Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55.

Nakoula told the news wire he did not direct the film, but admitted that he was the manager for the production company. He also claimed to be a Coptic Christian.

Nakoula was found to have a criminal history. Reportedly, Nakoula plead no contest in 2010 to federal bank fraud charges and served 21 months in federal prison. 

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