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.
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.
See also "'It makes me sick': actress in Muhammed movie says she was deceived, had no idea it was about Islam", Gawker, 12 September 2012
And "We were misled, says man who claims to have worked on anti-Islam movie", Los Angeles Times, 12 September 2012
Also "Meet the right-wing extremist behind anti-Muslim film that sparked deadly riots", Max Blumenthal, 12 August 2012
Update: See "Media researches Innocence of Muslims originators and promoters", Bartholomew's Notes on Religion, 13 September 2012
Update 2: See Max Blumenthal, "Inside the strange Hollywood scam that spread chaos across the Middle East", Guardian, 13 September 2012