Fraudster behind Film Causing US-Middle East Crisis

World | September 14, 2012, Friday // 12:50|  views

Peple angry over a US film portraying Prophet Muhammad as a religious cheat and a womanizer stormed the US Embassy in Sanaa, Yemen. Photo by EPA/BGNES

Police in Los Angeles are providing security for the man behind the US-made film offensively depicting Islam's Prophet Muhammad which triggered unrest across the Middle East.

The film, titled "The Innocence of Muslims" portrays Prophet Muhammad as a religious cheat and a womanizer. It depicts an imaginary attack of Muslims on a Christian family.

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a Christian Copt, is believed to be the person who uploaded the trailer of the film on YouTube and even its author. After being identified by the media, he has asked for police protection.

Nakoula's home in Cerritos, some 40 km south of Los Angeles, has been guarded by the police since Wednesday evening and swarmed by reporters.

US media write that the man, 55, went by many names, and was sent to 21 months in federal prison for bank fraud and using false identity.

Nakoula opened numerous bank accounts with fake names and stolen social security numbers. He then deposited bogus checks into the new accounts and withdrew money before the checks bounced.

Meanwhile, the actors hired to perform in "The Innocence of Muslims" say they had no idea the movie would be offensive to Muslims.

Basseley strongly denies he is "Sam Bacile," the director and writer of the movie and explains that only the similarity in the names has led to him.

On Tuesday, an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, said to be triggered by the film, killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens, 3 other officers, and several Libyans. Stevens is believed to have died from smoke inhalation.

The grounds of the American Embassy in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, were also attacked Thursday by a crowd of protesters angered by the film. There have been clashes in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, which are continuing Friday.

YouTube decided Thursday to block access to the film in Libya and Egypt. The authorities in Afghanistan banned all access to You Tube over fears of escalating tensions.

The filmmaker, who identified himself in a telephone interview with The Associated Press as Sam Bacile, said he is an Israeli-born, Jewish writer and director, living in California.

On Thursday, US officials said the probe is now focusing on finding out if the assault was a planned act by an Al Qaeda-inspired organization to mark the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attack on the US, since it happened on the same date. The announcement came on the heels of reports that the attack was executed by 20 trained militants.

Security has been increased at US embassies and consulates around the world in response to the rising tensions.

US President Barack Obama has vowed to work with the Libyan authorities to bring those behind the Benghazi attack to justice.

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Tags: Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, Nakoula, Christian Copt, You Tube, Google, Egypt, Afghanistan, sanaa, Yemeni capital, Yemen, Cairo, Barack Obama, Libya, ambassador, attack, Prophet Mohammed, Benghazi, Christopher Stevens, consulate, Prophet Muhammad, The Innocence of Muslims


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