The Back Story about the ‘Innocence of Muslims’, the death of four Americans and shameless candidate Mitt Romney

Let’s start at the beginning of this one, shall we?  The U.S. Ambassador to Libya and three others died yesterday over what amounts to a home video made by a bigoted California real-estate developer.  An angry mob attacked the U.S. embassy in Cairo.  Before all the particulars were in (and breaking a self imposed embargo on political attacks on September 11th) the Republican nominee issued a factually incorrect statement denouncing the Obama administration.

So let’s start with the video/film. It’s an amateurish production called “Innocence of Muslims”, produced by a self-described Israeli Jew and California developer named Sam Bacile.  Until recently, the video seemed destined to languish in the dust bins of right-wing theocratic book stores; it had been screened exactly once, to a mostly empty theater in Los Angeles. (Eds Note: Turns out that the full length feature that the trailer promoted never existed)

“Innocence” depicts the Islamic religion as a “cancer”, Muslims in general as immoral and gratuitously violent, and the prophet Mohammed variously sleeping with women, talking about killing children and referring to a donkey as “the first Muslim animal.” It also strongly suggests that the founder of that religion was a pedophile.

UPDATE From ProPublica:

A trailer for The Innocence of Muslims was posted on YouTube in July on an account bearing the name “sam bacile.” Sarah Posner of Religion Dispatches first raised questions about information “Bacile” — identified as a California real estate developer — gave to the AP and the Wall Street Journal in recent phone interviews. Christian activist Steve Klein, who has been described in the media as a consultant on the film, told the Atlantic that “Sam Bacile” was a pseudonym and he did not know the person’s true identity. The AP reported that “Bacile” is an Israeli Jew living in California and that he had raised $5 million for the film from 100 Jewish donors. But Klein told the Atlantic that “Bacile” is not Israeli.

UPDATE#2 From Gawker:

The story of the Muhammed movie which sparked deadly protests in Libya gets weirder. At least some of the actors who appeared in it had no idea they were starring in anti-Islam propaganda which depicts Muhammed as a child molester and thug. They were deceived by the film’s director, believing they were appearing in a film about the life of a generic Egyptian 2,000 years ago.

Cindy Lee Garcia, an actress from Bakersfield, Calif., has a small role in the Muhammed movie as a woman whose young daughter is given to Muhammed to marry. But in a phone interview this afternoon, Garcia told us she had no idea she was participating in an offensive spoof on the life of Muhammed when she answered a casting call through an agency last summer and got the part.

The script she was given was titled simply Desert Warriors. According to Garica, her three days on set last July were unremarkable. 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.

UPDATE3# From Associated Press:

WASHINGTON — A U.S. law enforcement official says a man named Nakoula Basseley Nakoula is behind the anti-Muslim film being blamed for mob attacks in Egypt, Libya and Yemen.

A man who calls himself Sam Bacile has said he created the film, but The Associated Press on Wednesday connected Nakoula to the Bacile persona.

Somebody anonymously (using the name ‘sam bacile’) translated a fourteen minute trailer for “Innocence” into Arabic and posted it on YouTube on September 4th. The video went viral, with word circulating that Coptic Christians were involved in its promotion and/or production.

Yesterday an Egyptian journalist filed a lawsuit against the producers of the film for “offence to Islam” and called upon authorities to strip the Egyptian Copts involved of their citizenship. That action moved the rumors swirling around the video into a major media story, inciting fundamentalists in both Egypt and Libya to take to the streets.

Morris Sadek, the head of the National American Coptic Assembly in the U.S., told the Associated Press he had been promoting the film on his website. He also tweeted a link to the trailer on September 9. Sadekis known for his vehemently anti-Islam views, and told the Wall Street Journal that “the violence that it [the film] caused in Egypt is further evidence of how violent the religion and people are”.

Terry Jones, the Florida pastor whose claim to fame was the burning of Qurans last year, spurring riots across the Muslim world leading to several deaths, is also reportedly involved in promoting the film.

Prior to the mob turning violent in Egypt and the attacks against Americans, U.S. Ambassador Anne W. Patterson (A career diplomat who also served as Bush’s Ambassador to Pakistan and close associate of Romney advisor John Bolton) issued a statement (and a few since-deleted tweets) apologizing for the offending video and criticizing “continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims.”

Here is the statement issued in Cairo:

 The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.”

 GOP Presidential nominee Mitt Romney campaign quickly accused President Barack Obama of sympathizing with the embassy attackers, saying:

 I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi. It’s disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.

A copyrighted photograph by the Associated Press apparently shows Romney smirking as he walked away from the podium after issuing that statement Wednesday evening.

Again, at the point when the Embassy in Cairo issued its statement, there had been NO attacks.

That fact didn’t stop GOP Chair Reince Priebus, Grizzly Mama Sarah Palin and a host of other right wingers from joining the fray. Palin:

The embassy actually apologized to the violent mob attacking us, and it even went so far as to chastise those who use free speech to “hurt the religious feelings of Muslims.” (Funny, the current administration has no problem hurting the “religious feelings” of Catholics.)

 Presidential candidate Romney is standing by his September 11th critique, so far, but foreign policy experts from both sides of the political aisle have voiced disapproval of his statement.  From Buzzfeed:

Mitt Romney’s sharply-worded attack on President Obama over a pair of deadly riots in Muslim countries last night has backfired badly among foreign policy hands of both parties, who cast it as hasty and off-key, released before the facts were clear at what has become a moment of tragedy….

 “They were just trying to score a cheap news cycle hit based on the embassy statement and now it’s just completely blown up,” said a very senior Republican foreign policy hand, who called the statement an “utter disaster” and a “Lehman moment” — a parallel to the moment when John McCain, amid the 2008 financial crisis, failed to come across as a steady leader.

 It was a bad day for the United States.  Our home grown haters, nurtured by the extremists on the right, made a first amendment protected statement that incited additional hatred around the globe.  Now four Americans are dead. Their video/film may be legal and protected, but that does not mean that they don’t deserve to be shamed. And the first words out of Mitt Romney’s mouth should have been about disowning the hatred. Instead, he opted to prove once again that his crusade is really an Anti (anything-that-we-can-think-the-President-might-have-said) American campaign.


Doug Porter

Doug Porter was active in the early days of the alternative press in San Diego, contributing to the OB Liberator, the print version of the OB Rag, the San Diego Door, and the San Diego Street Journal. He went on to have a 35 year career in the Hospitality business and decided to go back into raising hell when he retired. He's won awards for 'Daily Reporting and Writing: Opinion/Editorial' from the Society of Professional Journalists in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Doug is a cancer survivor (sans vocal chords) and lives in North Park.
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  1. avatarDoug Porter says

    it “may have” been a planned attack, according to the article. and the attack may have used the unrest as a cover or pretext. us officials are “studying” that possibility.

  2. avatarDoug Porter says

    U.S. officials have told The New York Times and CNN that the deadly consulate attack in Benghazi, Libya, which killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, may have been planned in advance.

    According to the CNN report, “attackers used the protest outside the consulate as a diversion,” though sources “could not say whether the attacker instigated the protest or merely took advantage of it.”

    • avatarAndy Cohen says

      I’ve been watching MSNBC since I got home. They’ve been reporting that it it does indeed appear that this was a planned attack, and there is strong evidence to support that theory. They’ve said that there was social media chatter going back for weeks (before the film was even announced) promoting protests….both in Libya and in Egypt. It has been surmised that although the attack may have been planned, they likely did NOT know that Ambassador Stevens was going to be present at the consulate. That was merely an “accident,” as he was apparently in Benghazi to announce the opening of a cultural center there.

      Another compelling aspect that points to the Benghazi attack being planned is that the attackers had access to the kinds of weapons that average protesters would not have had: There were about 20 attackers with AK47’s, and they used rocket and grenade launchers. Not the kinds of things “protesters” would have. It is as of yet unclear whether they were using the release of the “film” as motivation for the attack, or whether the film was just a cover for their plans in order to hide the identity of those who are responsible.

      Another fascinating thing to have broken within the last few hours: The alleged producer of the film appears not to even exist. He claims to be an Israeli, but the Israeli government says that they have no record of any such individual on their citizenship rolls. Also, the cast and crew of the film released a statement that condemns the film saying that they “100% don’t support the film,” and that they were misled and lied to about it. Apparently some of the more offensive statements about Islam and Mohammed were dubbed in after the fact, and the cast and crew knew nothing about it.

      One more interesting tidbit: The Egyptian protesters were led to believe that this was a major movie production that was being given a huge national release here in the States, instead of a low budget, YouTube piece of crap that it is.

  3. avatarMike Korzen says

    I emailed the White House:
    Am I incorrect in assuming that since this film is linked to the murder of the Ambassador to Libya and his staff, and it is American-made,that the FBI will immediately start to investigate the entire production?

  4. avatardoug porter says

    the fbi may investigate the attacks against the diplomatic personnel, but as far the video/film is concerned there appears to be nothing to investigate. that doesn’t means that there’s nothing people can do.
    unlike mitt romney, who has chosen to deny the hate at the bottom of this well and in the streets of north Africa, and unlike or commenter RB (above), who chooses to try to divert ( it’s not like we haven’t noticed a pattern) the discussion away from the matter at hand, you can say ‘no more’.
    say it on facebook. say it on twitter, say it to your church. say it to your country. if somebody makes a film that depicts jesus christ as a pedophile, people should be up in arms. but when somebody does that about mohammed, it’s treated in the media as something that “might offend” people.
    this is not to defend the attacks on diplomats and embassies. they are criminal acts. just because something–like this video– is protected by the first amendment doesn’t mean we as citizens shouldn’t show our disapproval. and that’s what wrong here.
    you got something to say about what happened in north africa? fine. start with telling the world that ALL the haters are wrong.

  5. avatarchris dotson says

    Simply wanted to say thanks, Doug, on behalf of my dear Muslim friends and my two godchildren for writing and for staying on top of these events, working to uncover more of the truth. Having worked in Cairo, and a few other cities in the middle east, my friends there would also be grateful for not feeding the frenzy of hatred which loudly demonstrates ignorance of Christ’s message of tolerance. Andy’s recent post only underlines my initial thoughts the story is still unfolding.

  6. avatarJEC says

    As dependence on mid-east oil declines, imagine the future – will the West care – less? For me, my entire adult life I’ve watched Muslims pound their chests for the indignitires they see all around but the source of their own shame is their own behavior. I once respected Muslims for their character; now, like some picture of Dorian Gray, the imagine of that character as morphed into something dark and brutal.

    • avatarGoatskull says

      For your entire adult life you’ve also watched Muslims who DON’T behave in that manor, unless you live in the backwoods of West Virginia. I assume you live in San Diego. While I don’t excuse the behavior of these extremist murderers and want to see them brought to justice, that doesn’t change the fact that not all or even most Muslims behave or think that way.

      • avatarJEC says

        Let’s not insult West Virginia – I’ve watched many Muslims sit in silence – I’ve heard much rationalizations offered in their defense. Certainly there are no absolutes – that goes without saying. Not every CEO is a greedy bastard, not every white person a racist. But there are indications it’s cultural. Imagine what it takes to murder a baby, a young child. To smash a baby’s skull, to blow up a school bus; imagine the mindset that takes. And what ideology gives comfort to such evil acts? Religion is often at the foundation of genocides. What I find fascinating is it seems these angry Muslims spend a lot of time searching the internet of the Planet Earth in search of insults and indignities. Does this provide a sense of purpose; a source to identify or validate something or someone to hate? It appears to.

  7. avatar says

    Here’s the “elephant in the room which everybody is ignoring” question: Why didn’t our vaunted intelligence services such as the CIA, FBI, National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security pick up on this stupid video? Presumably, they are scouring the internet daily for signs of terrorist activity. Any video criticising Muhammed or that otherwise might be considered inciting riot or offensive to Muslims should be taken down immediately. Does Free Speech include shouting Fire in a crowded theater? Well, this is like shouting Fire in a theater of a million people.

    • avatarJEC says

      Let me understand – we, the U.S. and the entire Western world for that matter, should change our values and submit to their will? Though all the world’s a stage, this is not a movie theater, and people insult people routinely, just read comments on the web. Do Muslims expect to live in the world with the rest of us? As a leader of the Muslim community in America stated last night, each of these events, especially one in which the U.S. did the right thing for a change as in Libya, provides more evidence that Muslim culture is violent and untrustworthy. I think he’s right. Needless to say, I disagree with you. If we were to acquiesce to Muslim expectations, wouldn’t it provide proof of the righteousness of their methods?