Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This


The California Fraudster And Christian Behind The Inflammatory Anti-Muslim Film

LAist relies on your reader support, not paywalls.
Freely accessible local news is vital. Please power our reporters and help keep us independent with a donation today.

More details are emerging about the man behind the Anti-Muslim film that helped to set off a wave of riots in the Middle East. The "Innocence of Muslims" appears to be produced by a Coptic Christian in Southern California named Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who has a record of financial fraud.

Yesterday it was reported that film was produced by an Israeli who went by the name Sam Bacile and had gone into hiding.

But the Associated Press makes a strong case that Sam Bacile is, in fact, an alias of Nakoula. Bacile identified himself as an Israeli and a real estate developer living in Southern California, but neither the Israeli government nor the Department of Real Estate has any record of Bacile. Steve Klein, who claims to have consulted the filmmaker, told the AP that Bacile is an alias and that the man behind the film is neither Jewish nor Israeli. The phone number that the AP used to call Bacile traces to the address where Nakoula lives. Nakoula denies that he is Bacile.

Nakoula already has quite a record. He plead no contest to federal bank fraud charges in California, and he was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison and was ordered to pay over $790,000 in restitution, AP reported. He's also not supposed to be using computers or the internet without the approval of a probation officer.

Support for LAist comes from

The Pasadena Star-News dug up some information about how the video appears to have been financed. The film was shot at Blue Cloud Studios in Santa Clarita, and filming permits traced the film back to a Duarte-based nonprofit Media for Christ. However, an employee denied that the company had anything to do with the film, and Klein also denied Media for Christ was involved.

Pastor Terry Jones of Gainesville, Florida, the man notorious for burning a Quran a couple 9/11 anniversaries back, said that he has been in touch with "Sam Bacile." He told the AP:

“He is definitely in hiding and does not reveal his identity. He was quite honestly fairly shook up concerning the events and what is happening. A lot of people are not supporting him. He was generally a little shook up concerning this situation.”

Bacile's partner Klein on the other hand said they knew exactly what they were getting into: "We went into this knowing this was probably going to happen."Southern Californians might have already missed their chance to see the inflammatory film on the big screen. Vine Theater in Hollywood told the AP that it screened the film for at least a day, maybe longer.

UPDATE: Klein, an insurance agent in Hemet, gave an on-camera interview with Reuters discussing his role as a consultant and spokesperson for the film. He admits to it being a terrible movie with "wooden actors who act like idiots," but he stands behind its message:

Support for LAist comes from

The Southern Poverty Law Center claims Klein is a longtime religious activist on the far-right with ties to extremist movements.

Gadfly (Kinda Sorta) Warned L.A. City Council About Inflammatory Anti-Muslim Film
Actors Say They Were Duped Into Working For Controversial Anti-Muslim Film
Stupid Islamaphobic YouTube Video Sparks Stupid Riots In Middle East
"Unspeakable Idiot": Israeli Behind Controversial Anti-Muslim Film Now In Hiding