"Innocence of Muslims," the spectacularly crappy anti-Muslim movie trailer linked to recent violence in Libya, and the death of a US ambassador and others? The guy credited as its filmmaker, "Sam Bacile," has been outed as one Nakoula Basseley Nakoula.
Noah Shachtman at Wired News reports that "Bacile" was one of many pseudonyms used by Nakoula. Others include Matthew Nekola; Ahmed Hamdy; Amal Nada; Daniel K. Caresman; Kritbag Difrat; Sobhi Bushra; Robert Bacily; Nicola Bacily; Thomas J. Tanas; Erwin Salameh; Mark Basseley Youssef; Yousseff M. Basseley; Malid Ahlawi; and my favorite, P.J. Tobacco.
He first told news outlets he was an Israeli Jew; law enforcement authorities have since identified him as a Coptic Christian immigrant with a shady past. He reportedly has a criminal record including at least one narcotics conviction: an LA County District Attorney's office source says he was arrested by the L.A. Country Sheriff's Department in 1997 and charged with intent to manufacture methamphetamine.
Lots more about him and the other shady dudes linked to the project at the Daily Beast:
Doubts about Bacile's identity began to surface after the film's consultant, Steve Klein, told another news organization that "Bacile" was a pseudonym and that he was not Jewish or Israeli. Klein, an insurance agent in Hemet, Calif., said the money used to finance the low-budget flop came from a mixed bag of donors, including Middle Easterners, Jewish people, Christians, and former Muslims.
Klein, who spent the majority of yesterday giving interviews to local television and print reporters, has a dubious background himself. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which wrote about Klein and his affiliation with a California extremist evangelical group called Church at Kaweah that is said to have roots in the militia movement, noted Klein once bragged about leading a "hunter killer" team as a marine in Vietnam.
According to the Law Center article, which appeared in the Intelligence Report in the spring of 2012, Klein stated that California is riddled with Muslim Brotherhood sleeper cells "who are awaiting the trigger date and will begin randomly killing as many of us as they can."
Klein refers to Islam as a "penis-driven religion." This is the weirdest story ever. Who the fuck are these guys, and who's really behind this whole thing? Hisham Matar at the New Yorker digs into some possible theories.
As some of our Boing Boing commenters have pointed out, the fact that Nakoula Basseley Nakoula has a history of financial fraud may explain why $5 million was reportedly raised for the feature but the trailer looks so shitty. And, there's some doubt as to whether the full-length feature even exists.
Wacko Koran-burning pastor Terry Jones is linked to the story, too. Gawker has more. And the Smoking Gun has the dox on Bakoula's criminal past. And the New York Times reports that violence has spread to Yemen and Iran.