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This week I’ve been following the violence that has been in response to a film that denigrates the Prophet Mohammad.  It boggles my mind that so little is actually known about the film, how it was made, or who made it.  I spent the morning going from one report to the next, finding some of the same information in most, but lots of conflicting information, too.

The man who made the film, now identified as Nakoula Bassely Nakoula, pleaded no contest to charges of bank fraud and production of methamphetimine in 2009.  He served time in a federal prison and was subsequently released on “supervised probation”.  Curious about what constitutes supervised probation, I took a side-path and learned that, in Nakoula’s case, among the terms of his supervised probation were conditions that he was not to own or use devices with access to the Internet and that any “approved” devices were to be used only for work.  He was also not to use any aliases without the approval of his probation officer, who hasn’t been named—probably for obvious reasons.  [now I’m wondering how conditions set as terms for probation can be altered with “approval”]

In the face of these conditions, Nakoula used at least one alias relating him to the film.  He identified himself, as the maker of the film, as Sam Bacile; though there is no record of a Sam Bacile having applied for or received a permit for a film named “Muslim Innocence” or “Innocence of Muslims.”  Other names associated with the film are–unconfirmed by me, but found in several online reports–Sam Bassil, Abenob Nakoula Bassely, Sam Basiel, Nicola Bacily, Erwin Salameh, and P.J. Tobacco (the last three in conjunction with the YouTube account used to air the film clips).  However, one report said that it was Sam Bacile who set up the YouTube account.  Lots of aliases.

For those who may not be familiar with it, I’ll point out that YouTube exists on the internet.  Accounts set up with YouTube necessarily involve the use of a device that has access to (you’ve got it) the internet.

Reporters tracked down Joseph Nasralla, who is registered as an organizer of “Media for Christ”, as the name on a permit issued for the making of a film called “Desert Warrior”.  An actress named Cindy Lee Garcia, one of the actors in the film, said that she responded to a casting announcement for a film titled “Desert Warrior” whose story-line, she was told, took place 2,000 years ago.  [Incidentally—and I thought this ominous in light of the events of this week—two of the female characters were named Condalisa and Hillary].  Garcia and another actor from the film (not identified in the comment) said that “Sam Bacile” told them he was Egyptian; yet when he identified himself to media as the maker of the film, he described himself as a real-estate tycoon from Israel. (Israeli officials say there is no record of his ever being in or from Israel)  Garcia also said that, in the making of the film, references to Mohammed were never spoken by the actors, that their actual lines had been dubbed over in post-production.

The fact that the film was aired in Muslim countries, in the week of the anniversary of 9/11 seems too significant to be coincidental.  All the protests and riots set off by the film, the deaths of American citizens killed during violence directed at a US embassy, the damage, injury, and worldwide civil and political unrest—all in response to a very low-budget film that apparently was made under questionable circumstances.  And it wasn’t noticed by authorities until it was too late…a sad distinction it shares with the infamy of 9/11.  Moreover, it won’t be lost in the annals of film now, as it most probably will have done without all the free publicity.

In my humble opinion, Nakoula/Sam/Abenob/Erwin/Nicola/P.J. wasn’t much changed by his incarceration and probation.  He’s still committing fraud, but this time it isn’t confined to California…and has far more serious ramifications.

What do you think? Let me know in your comments.

{information in this post was taken from online sites for, but not limited to, CNN, the LA Times, Gawker, and the Daily Kos}

{opinions aired herein are my own and do not reflect the opinions of others}

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