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Adding fire to the fuel: Nothing innocent about the film that spared it

Published: 30th September 2012 12:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th October 2012 11:58 AM   |  A+A-

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Disparate elements combined to propel the film Innocence of Muslims into provoking a predictable and deadly reaction. According to published reports the abominable film, which Lebanese daily Al Safir described as being “an insult to both Islam and cinema” was produced and directed by an Egyptian American Coptic Christian Nakoula Basseley Nakoula living in the suburbs of Los Angeles under the pseudonym of Sam Bacile.

While promoting the film in the media under his pseudonym he claimed to be an Israeli-American real estate developer. And that more than hundred Jewish donors had given five million dollars to have the film produced. Its working title while under production was ‘Desert Warrior’.  According to Film LA Inc, the production company for the film was Duarte, a California-based Christian group, Media for Christ. The president of that organisation was a Christian from Egypt.

Later the Associated Press which interviewed ‘Sam Bacile’ via phone was unable to find any public records pertaining to that name. Then  reports connected Nakoula to the name using the pseudonym Sam Bacile. Nakoula was known to use numerous aliases, including Nicola Bacily and Robert Bacily. He has extensive criminal records including for bank frauds.

The script consultant   to the film turned out to be one Steven Klein, who did not know Bacile’s real name. Klein is affiliated to extremist Christian groups in Southern California. He founded Courageous Christians United in 1977; the Southern Poverty Law Centre lists it as a “hate group”. According to the SPLC website, Klein believes US is “at war” with Muslims. He told the Atlantic that Bacile possibly got in touch with him because he was an “expert’’ on uncovering al Qaeda cells in California, claiming that “after  9/11 I went out to look for terror cells in California and found them, piece of cake. Sam found out about me. The Middle East  Christian and Jewish communities trust me.”

He said the film, shot in 2012, premiered at Vine theatre in Hollywood. The aim was to draw out Islamists in southern California.” We passed out flyers at mosques around California where we knew there was a small percentage of terrorists. And the idea was to locate those folks who believed Osama bin Laden was a great guy and try to get them to come to the movie.”

The movie premiered in July this year. Fewer than ten people are thought to have attended. ‘Bacile’ then uploaded an almost 14-minute trailer on Youtube. For two months it was unnoticed till an Arabic version was uploaded on Youtube in September. The translator was Morris Sadek, virulently anti-Islamic, an Egyptian Coptic Christian, a religious refugee who lives in the US. He sent the film to Egyptian journalists, promoted it on twitter and his blogs and networked with controversial pastor Terry Jones, who caused outrage by burning the Holy Koran outside his church Dove World Outreach Centre in Gainesville, Florida. Terry Jones agreed to promote the film. On September 8 Egyptian religious channel Al Nas aired the video.

Sam Bacile was quoted as having said “Islam is cancer” and that his movie was “political”. At least two actresses associated with the film (Anna Gurji and Cindy Lee Garcia) have said that the film which they acted for had nothing to do with the Prophet Mohammed. ‘Desert Warrior’ was supposed to be about tribal battles prompted by the arrival of a comet on earth. The film had been completely overdubbed. In a further twist the project director reportedly turned out to be Alan Roberts, 65, (real name Robert Brownwell) a specialist in soft porn films, including The Happy Hooker Goes to Hollywood and The Sexpert, and Young Lady Chatterly. He has gone underground now as have the rest associated with the film.

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