Mystery around anti-muslim filmmaker and fraudster deepens as yet another alias is revealed

As if "Sam Bacile," "PJ Tobacco," and dozens more colorful fake names weren't enough, the "Innocence of Muslims" guy apparently had yet another alias. A California judge has detained him for violating the terms of his probation by using a computer to make and upload the crappy and controversial film to YouTube. Read the rest

Man behind "Innocence of Muslims" video ordered jailed for violating fraud probation by using computers

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula escorted by LA County Sherriff's deputies from his home in Cerritos, CA. Photo: AP/CBS2-KCAL9, LA.

A federal judge today determined that California resident Nakoula Basseley Nakoula (aka Sam Bacile), one of the men behind a crappy, anti-Islamic YouTube video linked to violent protests in the Middle East and the death of a US ambassador, "is a flight risk" and must be jailed. Snip from AP:

Citing a lengthy pattern of deception, U.S. Central District Chief Magistrate Judge Suzanne Segal said Nakoula Basseley Nakoula should be held after officials said he violated his probation from a 2010 check fraud conviction.

‘‘The court has a lack of trust in this defendant at this time,’’ Segal said.

Nakoula had eight probation violations, including lying to his probation officers and using aliases, and he might face new charges that carry a maximum two-year prison term, authorities said.

After his 2010 conviction, Nakoula was sentenced to 21 months in prison and was barred from using computers or the Internet for five years without approval from his probation officer.

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CNN in hot water with State Dept. and slain ambassador's family over diary swiped from embassy

A person working for CNN on the story of slain ambassador Chris Stevens swiped his diary from the "the largely unsecured" US consulate in Benghazi. The network then used the diary's contents to produce on-air reports, against the wishes of Stevens' family. The State Department says the network's actions were an “indefensible” invasion of privacy.

More on the ethics controversy: Newser, Politico, WaPo, AP, WSJ.

The diary contained only seven written pages in a hard-bound book, according to a CNN statement. Some who are debating whether the network's actions were appropriate ask where one draws the line in this sort of situation: if a news agency staffer swiped a hard drive, a laptop, or a little USB fob, instead of a paper diary, would the world react differently?

And in related news, the embassy attack is described by the New York Times as a "major blow" to CIA operations in the region. Read the rest

Pakistan blocks YouTube over "Innocence of Muslims"

The government of Pakistan blocked access to YouTube today, after Google refused to remove the craptacular trailer for "Innocence of Muslims" linked to violent protests around the the Muslim world. Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf ordered the ban to prevent further violence, according to the Pakistani paper Dawn, and YouTube responded with a statement acknowledging restricted access to the content in various countries, "given the very sensitive situations." Read the rest

Meet some of the curious characters linked to “Innocence of Muslims” film

At the ADL blog, a rundown of Anti-Muslim Christian Activists linked to the “Innocence of Muslims” film. One of them, anti-Muslim activist Pamela Geller associate Joseph Nas­ralla, stars in the YouTube video above.

It's all too murky for me, still, to accept the story at face value. Laura Rozen has been a good source of analysis on Twitter; a blog post from her analyzing the loose threads is here.

Also: Nakoula Basseley Nakoula aka "Sam Bacile" aka was taken into custody today by federal authorities. The issue at hand may be whether the ex-con violated terms of parole by using a computer in the production of the YouTube video. In searing Los Angeles heat, Nakoula exited his home voluntarily, wearing a hat, sunglasses, a towel around his face, and a heavy winter coat. The LA Times reports that he and others associated with "Innocence" are receiving death threats.

The "Courageous Christians United" website today displays a statement distancing itself from Steve Klein, who has been identified as having been involved in the video's production.

Meanwhile, the protests have spread to... Australia.

Here's Boing Boing's archive of posts related to this wacky, still-evolving story. Read the rest

White House asks YouTube to "review" that anti-Muslim video blamed for global freakouts

"There's no indication that the government is questioning the right of these idiots to make that repellent film. On the other hand, it does make us nervous when the government throws its weight behind any requests for censorship," the American Civil Liberties Union's Ben Wizner said in an interview Friday. Read the rest

Bomb threats linked to "Innocence of Muslims" lead to evacuations at 3 US college campuses

Three schools in Texas, North Dakota and Ohio were evacuated today after bomb threats apparently linked to the "Innocence of Muslims" YouTube video freakout prompted officials to issue evacuation orders. More at Associated Press. And here are our archives. Read the rest

Middle East mobs freaking the hell out over YouTube video

This story is so weird. And with every advancement this week, it just gets weirder.

"Fury about a film that insults the Prophet Mohammad tore across the Middle East after weekly prayers on Friday with protesters attacking U.S. embassies and burning American flags as the Pentagon rushed to bolster security at its missions," reports Reuters.

Tunisia, Sudan, Egypt, Yemen, Afghanistan, 20 countries so far are involved, just three days after the bizarrely bad YouTube video triggered (or was used as an excuse for) an attack on the U.S. consulate in the Libya that killed an ambassador and three other Americans on September 11. And outrage is spreading beyond the mideast, to Muslim centers in Asia and elsewhere.

Of course, one could rightly argue that the outrage isn't really about the video—but about the fallout of years of US wars in the region. A trigger, if you will, but not the underlying cause of the conflict.

The New York Times has more:

The broadening of the protests appeared to reflect a pent-up resentment of Western powers in general, and defied pleas for restraint from world leaders including the new Islamist president of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi, whose country was the instigator of the demonstrations that erupted four days earlier on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Below, screengrab of a very useful Google Map of the protests, assembled by some guy named John.

Read more: Boing Boing news archive for "Innocence of Muslims."

Read the rest

Gawker outs director of "Innocence of Muslims" as softcore porn director

A reasonably big scoop from Adrian Chen at Gawker: "The anti-Islam film that's set off a firestorm in the Middle East was directed by a 65-year-old schlock director named Alan Roberts, we've confirmed. He's the creative vision behind softcore porn classics like The Happy Hooker Goes Hollywood" And related, more of the actors in this film are coming out to give press interviews claiming they were duped. At least one of them has a string of porn credits to his name. More: Boing Boing news archive for "Innocence of Muslims." Read the rest

More signs point to "Media for Christ" firm behind "Innocence of Muslims"

Marlow Stern at The Daily Beast reports on more evidence that right-wing-wacko Pam Geller associate Joseph Nasrallah ("Media For Christ") may be the producer of the "Sam Bacile" hate video, "Innocence of Muslims." More: Boing Boing news archive for "Innocence of Muslims." (via Max Blumenthal) Read the rest

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." Read the rest

Report: Mysterious gentleman behind Anti-Muhammad movie an ex-meth cook

"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. Read the rest

Snapshots from Benghazi

Bassam Tariq of 30 Days Ramadan points us to a series of images making the rounds on Facebook, Twitter, and the like today. The snapshots are ostensibly reactions to the recent violence related to a weird, anti-Islam YouTube trailer for a film produced by a mysterious character with a shady past.

The whole story behind that video and the attacks linked to it is perplexing, and the more that comes to light, the more it feels like a strange disinfo job. But I have no idea by whom, and to what end.

More images here. I don't know who shot them, and am unable to verify that they are what they appear to be as I post.

More: Boing Boing news archive for "Innocence of Muslims." Read the rest

Crappy YouTube trailer leads to death of US diplomat and others in Mideast

Update: The whole thing sounds like a weird disinfo job. But, by whom and to what end? The AP has outed "Sam Bacile" as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, a Coptic Christian who claims the film supports the concerns of Christian Copts about their treatment by Muslims. On The Media notes that there's something fishy about the film dialogue. And Gawker has spoken to one of the actresses in the film, who says she had no idea what the film was really about.

The Associated Press identifies Sam Bacile as an Israeli filmmaker based in California who made an independently produced and financed anti-Muslim movie that's sort of "Birth of a Nation" meets "Bed Intruder." The YouTube trailer is embedded above, and it unapologetically attacks Islam’s prophet Muhammad. Bacile has no known prior history as a filmmaker.

His D-grade web trailer inspired (or, alternately, was used as cover for) attacks by ultra-conservative Muslims on U.S. missions in Egypt and Libya. J Christopher Stevens, America's ambassador to Libya, and three American members of his staff were killed today in resulting violence.

From the Associated Press:

Speaking by phone Tuesday from an undisclosed location, writer and director Sam Bacile remained defiant, saying Islam is a cancer and that the 56-year-old intended his film to be a provocative political statement condemning the religion. Protesters angered over Bacile’s film opened fire on and burned down the U.S. consulate in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi. Libyan officials said Wednesday that Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed Tuesday night when he and a group of embassy employees went to the consulate to try to evacuate staff as the building came under attack by a mob firing machine guns and rocket propelled grenades.

Read the rest