Law enforcement confirms convicted fraudster behind anti-Muslim movie
The Associated Press reported early Thursday that Nakoula, 55, is responsible for the "Innocence of Muslims,” the film that was said to ridicule the prophet Muhammad and, in turn, prompt violent assaults on US land overseas, including missions in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and the US Embassy in Yemen.
Nakoula gave an interview to the AP on Wednesday and insisted that he managed logistics for the firm that produced the film, but denied any role as a director, a position that had been linked to a man using the name Sam Bacile. The AP claims to have traced the cell phone number provided to them as Bacile’s back to the same Los Angeles area home where they had earlier met with Nakoula.
Hours later on Thursday, a law enforcement official speaking on condition of anonymity confirmed to the AP that Nakoula was in fact behind the production of the film to a degree must larger than he claimed.
During their investigation, the AP identified Nakoula as an ex-con who had been convicted of bank fraud. He described himself as a Coptic Christian and had connections with Morris Sadek, a conservative practicing member of the religion who had promoted "Innocence of Muslims,” in the days before the film is believed to have sparked outrage overseas.
On their part, LA Weekly claims to have successfully tied Nakoula to Media for Christ, a company that described itself as “established to become the light that shows Jesus Christ to all human beings” that is also listed on the permit obtained to film the flick.
Since the attacks on US diplomatic establishments this week, the cast involved in the film have condemned the movie, issuing a joint-statement saying they feel that they were taken advantage of by the producer.
"We are 100 percent not behind this film and were grossly misled about its intent and purpose," the statement read.
A July 2011 call for work placed in Backstage magazine described the movie as a "historical Arabian Desert adventure film,” that was looking to cast for the roles of George, “a strong leader, romantic, tyrant, a killer with no remorse,” and Assad, a “bearded tribe leader” with an “Israeli accent.”
The actors who participated in the film said that they were not aware that the film mocked Muhammad and that extra lines were added and dubbed into Egyptian Arabic in post-production.
Cindy Lee Garcia, an actress in the film, tells AP, “there was never any mention of Muhammad, Muslims or anything like that in the film. I was just playing the role of a mother.”
“We were supposed to be playing a film of how life was 2,000 years ago,” she claims.
Garcia says that when she confronted the director for an explanation over the final product, he told her to clear her name and explained that he was motivated because, “I’m tired of the radical Muslims running around killing everyone.”