Man believed to be "Innocence of Muslims" filmmaker once arrested for making PCP

Yesterday, I posted an update on the stranger-by-the-day story of "Innocence of Muslims"—the craptacular film trailer (the actual feature may or may not even exist) is blamed for a string of violent attacks by ultra-conservative Muslims, including one in Libya that led to the death of a US ambassador and other US agents at an embassy.

The trailer is sort of like Birth of a Nation meets Bed Intruder meets Team America: World Police.

The story got weirder as news organizations traced the identity of the person, or persons, operating behind the apparent pseudonym of "filmmaker Sam Bacile." Noah Shachtman at Danger Room digs into public records and finds that Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the primary guy using the "Bacile" alias, was arrested in 1997 for manufacturing drugs: angel dust and crystal meth. He has also been convicted of financial fraud charges.

Laura Rozen wonders how it is possible that Nakoula was released from prison one month, and was out directing this schlock-hate-film a month later. Was he an informant? If this is a disinfo job, by whom and to what end?

Meanwhile, Vice digs in a different direction, unearthing documents and raising even more questions about another linked character who uses the name "Robert Brownell."

I haz a confused.

More: Boing Boing news archive for "Innocence of Muslims."


  1.  is used as a crappy excuse for a string of violent attacks by ultra-conservative MuslimsFTFY
    Not that I in any way support the racist guys behind the film, but if this had been South Park, people might be framing this in an entirely different way. Free speech is for everyone, even those we despise.

    1.  Yeah the real question is how all those muslim countries found out about an obscure vanity project and who distributed the propaganda about it that fanned the embers that were glowing there into a raging fire.

    2. This film is the cinematic equivalent of the “I HATE N*****S” sign that Bruce Willis’ character was forced to wear in the beginning of Die Hard with a Vengeance. It may not excuse violent attacks but it seems designed to provoke them.

    3. With freedom comes responsibility. The filmmakers don’t get to foist such incendiary crap as this onto the web, knowing full-well the shit-storm it would engender, and then get to hide behind protestations of “freedom of speech”. Yes, you can say anything you want…But the things you say are not without consequence or responsibility.

      1.  Fine, so out him, and let him bear the consequences. But the story shouldn’t be about some A-hole who made an obnoxious YouTube video. That’s not news. Neither is the fact that he has a criminal record. The coordinated attacks on US embassies and the murder of US diplomats– the first US ambassador to be killed on duty since 1979– that’s news.

        1. This guy didn’t just make his weird film – he falsely claimed to be an Israeli Jew, and to have raised $5 million from 100 Jews to make the film.

          As someone else pointed out on another thread – suppose someone came into my neighbourhood, pretends to be a Blood, and goes around insulting Crips (the gangs in my neighbourhood are not actually the Bloods and Crips, but whatever).
          Yes, the fact that gang warfare erupts is bad.

          That doesn’t mean people investigating the background and motivations of the creep behind the false flag operation are “missing the story” or “condoning gang violence”.  They’re focused on a different aspect of the story than you are, that’s all.

    4. Free speech is for everyone, even those we despise.

      Oh, definitely. But sometimes it is nice to be able to find someone and say “we despise what you did.”

      but if this had been South Park

      Oh, dead on. Because this is so totally IDENTICAL to something the South Park guys would have made in an alternate universe. WHERE THEY LACKED TALENT AND SENSE.

    5. Beyond kind of being not that good of a show imho, if South Park tried to incite violence in a similar way, I’d like to see them face consequences. The bleeding business was truly tasteless, but it was obviously not trying to incite violence or trying to urge people to discriminate against Christians, who are a majority and power holding group in The West anyway…. They may do all kinds of shocking potty humor, but it’s not some kind of plan to get people to hate on a race,religion etc. etc..

  2. So in other words, some low-rent Roger Stone. I maintain a doubt that this whole trailer story isn’t cover for other reasons for the violence.

    1. When your hot, poor, unemployed, hungry, and none of that looks like it will ever change, do you really need a cover story for violence?

  3. And, why do we care about this?  If it were not for the attacks, this film would be another completely obscure title by some nut-job., and nobody would really care who make the film or why.

    The only real news-worth thing is that some Muslims are all too happy to kill people for a perceived insult — never mind that the person that they killed had nothing to do with the film.

    I say let the guy who made this film languish in obscurity, where he belongs.  He does not deserve his 15 minutes of fame.

    1. Muslims are all too happy to kill people for a perceived insult

      Unlike Christians, who are genuinely remorseful for killing people for being certain kinds of doctors,  or being gay, or belonging to the wrong branch of Christianity, etc.

  4. This guy is the internet’s most effective troll. I’m truly impressed. Dude just destabilized the middle east with a youtube video.

    1. You thought the middle east was stable? When?  The Sunnis and Shiites are pretty good at suicide-bombing each other.  THey don’t need excuses from other sources.    Half the governments are either under attack from armed rebels or are incarcerating hundreds in a vain attempt to forestall similar attacks.   Apostate videos are just noise by comparison.

  5. 1) When ultra-conservative jews in israel attack buses with ads featuring women on them, are we to blame the bus company or the ad agency?  Or the photographer or the models?  Or the ultra-conservative idiots who are attacking buses?  

    2) The timing is interesting: the attack in Lybia happened on 9/11.  CNN is saying that it was pre-planned, which makes sense.  I know I hardly ever bring machine guns and RPGs to protests unless I know in advance I’ll be needing them :)  Anyway, my point is it looked like there was going to be violence, they just took advantage of the trailer and used that as an excuse.  If it hadn’t been this trailer, then it would’ve been underwear with alleged pictures of mosques on it, or ice cream packaging that looks like the arabic word for allah, or Nike air shoes that has text that kinda looks like the word for allah in arabic, or danish cartoons, or something else.   And while it’s cool that we can figure out who made this crappy ass trailer, and I do find it fascinating seeing how he was tracked down, I feel we’re kinda wasting time and effort on the wrong group of people.  

    3) Why didn’t the Marines/guards at the consulate fire at the attackers?  I haven’t heard anything about them returning fire.  Why not?  Were they ordered not too? Was the crowd too full of non-attackers that they felt they could not fire back?  Some other reason?  Inquiring minds want to know, dammit! 

    1. Why didn’t the Marines/guards at the consulate fire at the attackers?

      I don’t know many details of the attack but Ambassador Stevens apparently died of smoke inhalation from a fire caused by an RPG. It only takes a moment to get one shot off, and afterward those guns won’t do much to combat a raging inferno.

  6. I was under the impression this was part of the cyber war. Then I felt foolish because everyone is convinced the issue is crazy Muslims. Then I saw this guys criminal record. Sure looks like a patsy. 

    The interesting question is which is more effective: hacking ala Flame, or good old fashioned propaganda like the Israelis are good at. I was impressed during the 2009 bombing of Gaza. 

    And beyond that – is there a reason propaganda needs to be so badly done on purpose? It always seems to be. Is it just that it doesn’t matter, and volume does matter? Or is it an attempt to dissemble? It does seem to work: YouTubers are quick to call fake on all manner of stunt videos, but who watches black propaganda in the first place?

  7. I wish people would at least try to sort out some of the details before crying about how everyone is “excusing the violence”.
    1. The death of the ambassador is being investigated as an intentional hit by trained and well-equipped militants.  This is entirely plausible.  If this is the case, then the ambassador’s death is not a result of the stupid film and you can stop whining about how we’re blaming the filmmakers for the ambassador’s death.  The film and the murder of the ambassador probably don’t have anything to do with each other.
    2. Considering all the legitimate grievances that Muslims might riot about on 9/11 the notion that they’re rioting over this stupid, low-budget piece of trash is…let’s say flimsy
    3.  There’s a lot of suspicious stuff going on around this.  How did these guys even hear about the film?  Who translated the film into Arabic?  How did it end up on Egyptian TV?
    4. The fact that Egyptian Copts seem to be behind the film for the purpose of grinding an axe against the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the fact that there was some disinformation about the film being funded by Jews suggests, again, that there’s some suspicious stuff going on here. 

    So please, enough about how talking about the filmmakers is “excusing” the death of the ambassador or any violence by rioters.  First of all, the ambassador’s death probably has nothing whatsoever to do with this film or protests thereof, so that’s just a non-sequitir.  Second of all, enough with the sentiment that talking about the filmmakers is “excusing the rioters.”  You don’t have to approve of political violence to see that there might be something fishy here and want to talk about it.  Finally, enough with the “Muslims are stupid dirty animals that riot over a stupid movies.”  It’s not clear that the riots about the “film”, especially considering all the weirdness going on around this.

    1.  A million-billion times yes!  I wish I could give this more likes.  I just wish people would actually be skeptical about everything, even those things which seem to confirm their biases…. I know it’s hard, but come on, we’re a smart crowd.  I think we can do this and get to some truth here.

      1. What are you talking about, didn’t you get the memo that Muslims are half-retarded and can’t control their mood with the knowledge that some obviously-crap Internet thingy exists? Here’s the test of credibility for Westerners divining Muslim intent for anything: does it emerge from the fact that all Muslims just fell off the turnip truck? Then it’s probably true.

  8. Why do people around here have such problems discerning real-world consequences from hypothetical/theoretical situations?

    Without meaning to put words in his mouth, no, it’s not “OK”, but just because it’s not “OK” doesn’t mean it won’t happen.

    A pedestrian who steps out in front of a car running a red light may have the right of way, but they still get hit by the car.

    You may be legally allowed to say something, but that doesn’t mean it won’t evoke a response from people, physical or otherwise.

    Welcome to the real world.

  9. Because they are unsupportable, anti-reality, and have no functional usefulness.  The day anyone successfully predicts and  demonstrates a targeted outcome as the result of prior prayer is the day we’ll start thinking of religion as anything other than mass paranoid psychosis.

  10. Please give a rationale for your beliefs that would not apply equally well to any other myth, including the Flying Spaghetti Monster. When you can tell us why all other myths are preposterous and why yours is not, come on back to us. 
    We don’t really have time to list all the reasons why all the religions are preposterous, especially when we can sit back and let you all tear each other’s beliefs apart. Remember, every atheist only believes in one less  god than you do (unless you are hindu :) ).

  11. Making excuses ≠ suggesting there might be more to this than the usual bigoted: “Arabs are crazy religious lunatics!”

  12. Wait, did you miss the part where people on the scene said this film is being blamed for an attack that was actually carried out by militants who are angry about the US bombing and torturing their countrymen?

  13.  Yeah, but we have had that “Arabs are crazy religious lunatics” nonsense shoved down our throat so much in the past 11 years (well, before that too, but it was not as prevelant pre-9/11), and frankly, people are lazy and have no interest in what is actually happening over there.  It gives them something to rant and rave about and someone to feel superior to as well.  And the people in charge can continue on with their foreign policy aims of securing resources in far flung places for their corporate overlords. And so on forever.

  14. Look, I’m an atheist too, but that doesn’t mean I should be dismissive of others views of reality. What’s the point of that? You don’t believe in a god, great. Neither do I. Lots of people do. It’s part of our world that we all need to come to terms with in some way or another.  And some of them, it actually makes their lives better, and the lives of those around them better.  Others are assholes about, no doubt. 

    Look – I have an idea – why don’t we judge people on their actions, how they treat others, whether they bring something good to our collective table of man kind. Religion is not going away tomorrow. It’s just not. I don’t know if it will ever go away.  Lots of folks acting on a belief in a creator actively made the world a better place.  Not all religious people are extremist who are morons. 

  15. It’s happened before, and most people did this exact same thing that they are doing now (see various riots in the 1960s) – they made uninformed comments and broad generalizations and ignored context.

  16. Actually all my “theories” are actually facts gathered from reportage I found by reading the comments on BB posts about the film. What do you think the point is exactly? Spell it out so I can laugh at you.

  17. “Lots of folks acting on a belief in a creator actively made the world a better place.”
    We do not have a control group, so you cannot really say that with any confidence. Where would be as a species without the dark ages? Where would the middle east be if they had continued their early enlightenment period? As insulting as @facebook-673421401:disqus ‘s post was, how can that even compare to the murder and imprisonment of atheists throughout the ages?

    Would you tell Malcom X to be more placating to racists? Like it or not, this is a civil rights issue and while you may disagree with some approaches we are still talking about freedom of speech.

    No one is advocating making religion illegal or violence against the religious.  

    Why should we treat religion any different than we would those who believe in bigfoot or alien anal probes?

  18.  Replying to nowinnothing, because of reply limit:

    I got told to shut the fuck up.  There is a subgroup of atheists who are angry and hateful and attack all religious people, including their allies.  They are the only atheists I cannot support.

  19. @20thCenturyVole:disqus >(and quite possibly raping him posthumously)

    Thank goodness nobody’s indulging in insulting, stereotypical hypotheses in THIS thread!

    Where did THAT come from?!?!?

    [update: original comment removed.]

  20. Interesting, but I personally don’t believe in anything that’s unsupportable, anti-reality, or has no functional usefulness.  Nor do I believe in any sort of magical wish-granting prayers or invisible sky-men.

    You, though, apparently believe you can read my mind, which you clearly can’t.  You are the one acting on illogical faith here – you know nothing about my religion, but you’ve convinced yourself that hating the imaginary beliefs you’ve projected on me is somehow reasonable.  It’s really just hatred wanting a target, isn’t it?

  21. >they are unsupportable, anti-reality, and have no functional usefulness.

    Sounds like a novel, play, or painting, or other aspects of “culture.”


    When I hear the word culture, I reach for my gun.

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