Sam Bacile or Nakoula Basseley Nokoula? Federal Officials Consider Nakoula as Man Behind the Film

Film that Outrage the Muslim World has shady orgins

By: Moni Basu and Chelsea J. Carter

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Some time in the summer, a small theater in Los Angeles screened a movie to which hardly anyone came.

 It was a clunky film filled with scenes in a desert and in tents. The characters were cartoonish; the dialogue gauche.

 The actors who’d responded to a July 2011 casting call thought they were making an adventure film set 2,000 years ago called “Desert Warrior.” That’s how Backstage magazine and other acting publications described it.


The American-made movie, it turns out, was hardly an innocent desert action flick. Instead, the movie, backed by hardcore anti-Islam groups in the United States, is a tome on Islam as fraud. In trailers posted on YouTube in July, viewers saw this: scene after scene of the Prophet Mohammed portrayed as a womanizer, buffoon, ruthless killer and child molester.

 Islam forbids all depictions of Mohammed, let alone insulting ones.  

The Muslim world erupted in rage.


Protesters aired their anti-American anger in Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia, Morocco, Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Israel and the Palestinian territories. Violent mobs attacked the U.S. Consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi leaving the ambassador and three other Americans dead.

 As outrage spread, the film’s origins still remained murky. Whose idea was it? Who financed it?

At the heart of the mystery was the filmmaker himself, a man identified in the casting call as Sam Bassiel, on the call sheet as Sam Bassil and reported at first by news outlets as Sam Bacile. But federal officials consider that man to be Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who was convicted in 2009 of bank fraud. The FBI contacted the filmmaker because of the potential for threats, a federal law enforcement official told CNN Thursday. But he is not under investigation.


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