Reports have revealed that the anti-Islam film, which has sparked outrage and deadly protests in the Muslim world, was produced US religious group called Media for Christ and directed by a pornographer, 65-year-old Alan Roberts.
Aljazeera reported that the man behind the film, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, is a convicted fraudster. US officials further revealed that Nakoula, a US-based Egyptian Copt, may have violated his parole.
In a video report, Aljazeera’s Rob Reynolds reveals that a poster for the anti-Islam film, which portrayed the Prophet Mohammed as a child-molesting, womanizing, ruthless villain, was first sighted by witnesses on June 18. It was then titled “Innocence of Bn Laden”. The Arabic poster read in part: “For the first time, my Muslim brother, you are about to witness the true terrorist. The terrorist who killed our children in Palestine, and our brethren in Iraq and Afghanistan”.
Steve Klein, head of an organization called Courageous Christians United said the intent of the film was to lure out suspected terrorists in Los Angeles. Fliers inviting audiences to the one night screening at the Vine cinema on June 30 were handed out at mosques, but Reynolds reports it is not evident that anyone showed up for the screening.
Perhaps nothing would have come of it had a 14-minute trailer for the film, now titled “The Innocence of Muslims”, not been posted up on YouTube by an unknown individual. The trailer was then picked up by the host of an Egyptian religious television program who put it on TV. The outrage started in Cairo and has quickly spread to other Islamic countries.
Members of the cast of the film say they were duped into making the “Innocence of Muslims”. One actress says she was shocked when she saw the trailer and wondered, “what had they done with the film?” They say the offensive dialogue was dubbed in after the film was shot.
The film was directed by Roberts, a 65-year-old veteran whose previous works include soft porn flicks and hammy action with titles like “Young Lady Chatterly II” and “Karate Cop”, Gawker reported.
Klein, a Vietnam veteran who is notorious for protests outside mosques and Mormon temples, told the AFP that he helped movie makers and promoted the film alongside a network of right-wing Coptic and Evangelical Christians who share his radical anti-Muslim agenda.
It was shot in a nondescript location, a building that also doubles as the headquarters for charity organization, Media for Christ. Nakoula, the alleged producer of the film, was escorted by Sheriff’s deputies from his Cerritos, California home to a police station early on Saturday for an interview by federal probation officers, NBC News reported.
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula being arrested
They are trying to determine if Nakoula broke the terms of his release from prison. He was charged in 2009 for defrauding US banks by opening false accounts and passing bad checks.
He was since released on probation on the condition that he testify against the alleged ringleader of the check fraud scam and that he no longer use the computer or the Internet for five years.
Breaking these rules could mean going back to jail. Nakoula told Radio Sawa in an interview that he uploaded the video on YouTube.
“I am the one who leaked the 14 minutes and put it on the Internet and I am thinking about releasing the full film. Nobody manipulated my film,” he said.
The amateur film suffered sub-par production values, but its content – portraying the Prophet Mohammed as a thug and deviant has caused a major fallout in the Arab world.
Analysis by AlJazeera
Rioters in the Sudan capital city of Khartoum expressed anger at the anti-Islam film by attacking British, German and US embassies in the city, according to online reports. The enraged mob first targeted the German embassy where they stormed an outer wall and set fire o a car near the gates. Sudanese police warded off the attackers, firing teargas at them, but the crowd moved on to the neighboring British embassy.
British foreign secretary William Hague said demonstrators broke down embassy walls and caused some minor damage, but did not enter the embassy itself. The attack happened on a Friday, considered a weekend in Sudan, so many staff of the embassy were not at work and no lives were lost.
“The neighboring German embassy, which appeared to be the focus of the attack, was set on fire and severely damaged. We remained in close contact with the Germans throughout the incident and were able to offer shelter to German diplomats. I am pleased to say that they are also safe,” he said.
They also targeted the U.S. Embassy to protest the American amateur film, but the demonstrators were expelled from the compound, the Free Internet Press reported.
Obama’s message to rioters
The outrage, which began in Cairo, Egypt’s capital, on Tuesday has since spread to Libya where four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were killed in an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi. As the bodies of the victims were returned home to the United States, they were received by US President Barack Obama who described the victims as patriots and vowed to not allow the actions of extremist alienate the United States from the Arabic world.
Obama is however taking decisive action, dispatching a unit of Marines trained in counter-terrorist operations into Libya. U.S. drones reportedly flew over Benghazi on Friday and were targeted by anti-aircraft fire from extremist groups believed to be behind the attack on the consulate. Some officials believe the attackers used the protest as a diversion, masking the real intent of their attack.
Marines were also deployed to Sana’a, the Yemen capital. They were there to bolster security at the embassy there, which has also come under attack by rioters.