Who's behind the film that sparked the U.S. ambassador to Libya's death?
The man calling himself Sam Bacile claims he's an Israeli-American real estate developer who sank $5 million, coming from more than 100 Jews, into a movie that he claims shows origins of Islam, "Innocence of Muslims." But is Sam Bacile who he says he is?
- A scene from the attack on the consulate in Benghazi.
- Steve Klein, a contributor to the film, told The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg says he doesn't know the film's writer and director's real name, despite previously being quoted about Bacile.
"Klein told me that Bacile, the producer of the film, is not Israeli, and most likely not Jewish, as has been reported, and that the name is, in fact, a pseudonym. He said he did not know "Bacile's real name. He said Bacile contacted him because he leads anti-Islam protests outside of mosques and schools, and because, he said, he is a Vietnam veteran and an expert on uncovering al Qaeda cells in California. "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."
The blog The Back Channel raises also doubts about Sam Bacile's identity, as does The Atlantic Wire.
"There were some hints that Bacile may be a pseudonym, possibly for someone affiliated with the Egyptian Coptic diaspora.
A consultant on the film, Steve Klein, told the AP that Bacile has family members in Egypt. A 2007 interview with Klein, a self-styled terrorism expert and Vietnam vet, mentions his ties to the Copt diaspora community."
Copts are members of an ancient branch of Christianity dating back to the Roman and Byzantine Empires.
- And the Atlantic Wire adds that "little is available online about his business past. For what it's worth, Google is mystified by search queries for real estate developers by the name of Sam Bacile ("Did you mean: sam basel" it asks, pointing to a Colorado real estate developer).
Prominent Jewish journalist John Podhoretz were similarly puzzled by the thin details about Bacile.
- Klein himself has come to the attention of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights group, which has this description of him:
"A longtime religious-right activist who brags about having led a 'hunter killer' team as a Marine in Vietnam. Klein, who calls Islam a 'penis-driven religion' and thinks Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca is a Muslim Brotherhood patsy, is allied with Christian activist groups across California. In 2011, as head of the Concerned Citizens for the First Amendment, he worked with the Vista, Calif.-based Christian Anti-Defamation Commission on a campaign to 'arm' students with the 'truth about Islam and Muhammad' — mainly by leafleting high schools with literature depicting the Prophet Mohammed as a sex-crazed pedophile."
Israeli officials say they have no record that Sam Bacile is a citizen of that country, the AP reports.
AP spoke with a man claiming to be Bacile by telephone, who said "Islam is a cancer, period."
An actress in the movie, Cindy Lee Garcia, told gawker.com that she'd been duped by Bacile, saying that she had no idea that the movie had anything to do with religion. Mentions of Mohammad and other religious figures were dubbed in as part of the Arabic translation, she said.
The script she was given was titled simply Desert Warriors.
"It was going to be a film based on how things were 2,000 years ago," Garcia said. "It wasn't based on anything to do with religion, it was just on how things were run in Egypt. There wasn't anything about Muhammed or Muslims or anything."
Later in the gawker.com article, Garcia describes Bacile:
The film's mysterious pseudonymous writer and director, "Sam Bacile," has claimed to be an Israeli real estate mogul. But Garcia said Bacile told her he was Egyptian on set. Bacile had white hair and spoke Arabic to a number of "dark-skinned" men who hung around the set, she said.
"He was just really mellow. He was just sitting there and he wanted certain points to be made."
- Jason Fields, World News Editor, Digital First Media
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