For the past several days, the anti-Islam filmmaker being held responsible by some for the riots and murders at U.S. embassies in Egypt and Libya has been shrouded in mystery. Very little was known about the man, “Sam Bacile,” whose bizarre film “Innocence of Muslims” had offended Muslims calling for his head. Bacile was purportedly an Israeli-born Jew forced into hiding after word of his film began to spread. As it turns out, though, “Sam Bacile” is a pseudonym.
An Associated Press investigation has revealed that “Bacile” is in fact Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a 55-year-old Egyptian Coptic Christian living in California. According to the AP, Nakoula has a history of fraud and has used several aliases.
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, who talked guardedly about his role, pleaded no contest in 2010 to federal bank fraud charges in California and was ordered to pay more than $790,000 in restitution. He was also sentenced to 21 months in federal prison and ordered not to use computers or the Internet for five years without approval from his probation officer.
Be sure to read the whole, fascinating thing. Nakoula repeatedly denies that he is the film’s director or that he and “Sam Bacile” are one and the same, but the evidence of his dishonesty is compelling.
In an additional twist, the film’s actors were apparently unaware of Nakoula’s intent, and they claim that much of the dialogue was added in post-production:
“The entire cast and crew are extremely upset and feel taken advantage of by the producer,” said the statement, obtained by the Los Angeles Times. “We are 100 percent not behind this film and were grossly misled about its intent and purpose. We are shocked by the drastic rewrites of the script and lies that were told to all involved. We are deeply saddened by the tragedies that have occurred.”
Twitter is buzzing after the revelations:
Of course, whether he’s “Bacile” or Nakoula, the man behind the movie is still being blamed for Tuesday’s attacks:
Some are wrongheadedly calling for Nikoula to be jailed or killed:
And he is reportedly still concerned for his safety:
More from ABC:
Sheriff’s deputies were sent to the Cerritos, California home of Nakoula, 55, Thursday to protect him and his family, a senior law enforcement official told ABC News. According to a sheriff, the police were at Nakoula’s home overnight Thursday but have now left, as media reports identifying him as the man behind “Innocence of Muslims,” and listing his address, have circulated.
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.
Regardless of Nakoula’s shadiness and his film’s perceived offensiveness on a religious, not to mention artistic, level, threats to his safety and to the safety of his family are unacceptable. Lynch mob tactics may be the methods preferred by the rioters and radicals in Egypt and Libya, but in this country, we are above that kind of barbarism.
Some have accused Nakoula of anti-Semitism, asserting that he hid behind a false Jewish identity in order to protect himself and deflect any fallout from his film away from Copts and toward Jews:
It may be some time before Nakoula’s motivations are fully revealed, but one thing is clear: the depth of his deception is significant. In concealing his true involvement with “Innocence of Muslims,” he has called his character further into question. It’s doubtful that he anticipated this sort of notoriety, but he’s got it now, and his headache is unlikely to go away anytime soon.