Written by James Simpson
Exclusive to Accuracy in Media
With every new bit of information surfacing about the “Innocence of Muslims” movie trailer and its shady producer, it is looking more and more like the movie was part of an Islamist provocation, in which the film was produced to provide a pretext for widespread attacks against our embassies throughout the Middle East. It comes complete with cover story and perfect dupes. Let’s review.
On September 11, 2012, around 9:30 p.m. Libya time, the American consulate in Benghazi came under sustained attack from heavily armed Jihadists, ultimately resulting in the deaths of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, computer technician Sean Smith, and U.S. Navy SEALs Glenn Dougherty and Tyrone Woods, who attempted their rescue. Earlier that afternoon, Egyptian Muslims attacked the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, pulling down the American flag. Subsequent protests saw violence in Tunisia, Yemen and elsewhere throughout the Muslim world.
As details emerged it became clear that the Benghazi raid was a premeditated, carefully planned attack by heavily armed Jihadists, coordinated with radicals in Egypt and other Mideast countries, and timed for the anniversary of 9-11, 2001. Libyan leaders confirmed as much shortly thereafter. Meanwhile, until September 27th the Obama administration was implausibly still insisting that the attacks were inspired by the movie. Now, more than two weeks after the attack, they are finally admitting they knew the truth within 24 hours.
Why did they stick to their story for so long, when it was clear that this idiotic film had nothing to do with the attack?
Or did it?
Early news reports claimed that an anti-Muslim movie sparked the violence. This could not have legitimately been the cause of spontaneous riots. That evening, some 15 hours after the Egyptian protests began, the “Innocence of Muslims” YouTube trailer, posted way back in July, had garnered only 1,000 views. It should have been viral by then, but it is doubtful that many Muslims had even heard of the film. Furthermore, the quality and dialogue was so poor that it was laughable. Even imputing the lowest intelligence quotient to fanatic Islamist viewers, it is impossible to imagine anyone getting worked up over this joke of a film. The complete film debuted in June, according to the L.A. Times, at “a run-down theater on a seedy stretch of Hollywood Boulevard,” though fewer than 10 people were there to see it. Others question whether the full-length version actually exists. No copy has turned up since the story broke earlier this month.
At around 6 a.m. on September 11th, well before any protests were launched, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo issued the following statement, now disavowed by the State Department:
“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.”
They sent out supporting tweets at 5:53 and 6:10 a.m. stating, “Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy,” and “US Embassy condemns religious incitement.”
What religious incitement? No protests had yet occurred, so the Embassy clearly knew something was brewing. On September 9th, the Grand Mufti of Egypt, one the few people who had apparently heard of the film, denounced it as “Offensive to the Prophet.” He accused “extremist Copts” of producing it. How did he learn of it and why would he draw attention to such an insignificant production? How did he know it was “extremist Copts?” The filmmaker had not yet been exposed, he used an alias during the film’s production, and his cover story was that he was Jewish. Still, judging by the YouTube visits, few Muslims got the message.
On September 10th, Florida Reverend Terry Jones announced that he would air the trailer as part of an “International Judge Mohammad Day” on September 11. Jones claimed the film producer contacted him directly and appealed to him to help promote the film. Who better to incite a Muslim backlash than Jones, whose Koran burning exercise last year was cited for widespread protests and killings in Afghanistan, including 20 UN staffers? Still, no big YouTube hits.
So how did thousands of Muslim rioters in multiple countries come out to protest a film they never saw?
The film’s supposed one-time screening is a bizarre story itself. One of the film’s promoters, Stephen Klein, is a hardcore anti-Muslim activist, who claims he was recruited as a “script consultant.” They originally named the film “Innocence of Bin Laden.” Quoted in the L.A. Times, he said the film’s intent was to smoke out Muslim terrorists:
“We passed out fliers at mosques around California where we knew there was a small percentage of terrorists. And the idea was to locate … those folks who believed Osama bin Laden was a great guy and to try to get them to come to the movie.”
The producer didn’t attend the film’s premiere, but pensively observed the theater entrance from a nearby restaurant while the movie, or trailer, was being shown. Police were apparently aware of the film’s provocative intent as they showed up to monitor the scene. The Daily Beast interviewed a law enforcement source who was there:
“You are monitoring the people in the area for behavioral characteristics, and he was displaying them. Normal people don’t act like that. He was across the street, on the opposite side of the block, so he could view what was going on. He was sweating and focusing in on the entrance. He was watching what was going on around and who was going in,” the source said.
Police introduced themselves to the man, who informed them that he was the producer. Initial reports identified him as “Sam Bacile,” an Israeli Jew who claimed the film was financed by more than 100 Jewish donors. Shortly after, he was identified as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, supposedly a Coptic Christian with family in Egypt. He then claimed his wife’s Egyptian relatives provided the money.
Court documents reveal that Nakoula is just one of many aliases. He has an extensive criminal history spanning decades, having been arrested for illicit drug manufacturing/trafficking and bank fraud. He served almost no time for his 1997 drug arrest, leading some to believe he avoided jail by informing for the government. The arrest may have been part of an investigation into a large Muslim drug ring that was financing the Muslim terrorist group Hezbollah. Daily Beast reported:
“The bust came around the time the feds were launching Operation Mountain Express, which would become a huge investigation into pseudoephedrine-dealing involving numerous people of a Middle Eastern background. The authorities initially insisted there were no links to terrorism, but suddenly switched and decided that a chunk of the money was going to Hizbullah [sic]…”
Asa Hutchinson, DEA Administrator at the time, stated: “I’m satisfied that portions of the drug sales have moved back to the Middle East and portions of that are going to support terrorist organizations.”
Nakoula’s most recent conviction was for extensive bank fraud and identity theft, with a fine of $795,000. He received a comparatively light 21 month sentence and five years’ probation. Claiming he wrote the script while in prison, Nakoula apparently violated the terms of his probation—which forbids him from using computers or accessing the Internet without permission—to make the film. He was arrested on September 27th on that charge, and will remain in custody, according to the judge.
Now we learn from court documents obtained by the website, the Smoking Gun, that Nakoula’s light sentence this time definitely was due to his informing on co-conspirators, particularly, one Eiad Salameh. Salameh was characterized in the article as “a notorious fraudster who has been tracked for more than a decade by state and federal investigators.”
In a provocative article posted September 25th, Palestinian Christian convert Walid Shoebat claims the film was made by Muslim terrorists. He claims to know Salameh, that the man is his first cousin and has terrorist ties. Shoebat first wrote of him in 2008:
“Eiad Salameh Shu'aybat, my first cousin… who is wanted by the United States for major financial fraud most likely linked to financial terrorism... In fact a litany of stories on embezzlement and fraud can be tracked on Eiad…
“My cousin hated Copts with a passion and is well-known in the Middle East as a master schemer, probably one of the best the Middle East has produced. He also has multiple contacts with terror networks.”
Shoebat goes on to say that Salameh and Nakoula worked together for 10 years and that both had been handled gingerly by the FBI. If Shoebat’s claims are true, it is difficult to believe Nakoula was an “extremist Copt.” Why would Nakoula have worked with Salameh or vice versa?
With his criminal background, it is difficult to believe Nakoula could have firm beliefs about anything. On September 14, Nakoula was interviewed on the U.S. government-funded Sawa Radio, an Arabic radio program. Shoebat claims Nakoula said he was neither Jewish nor Christian, but actually he made no claim whatever about his religion, if he has one. He also disassociated himself from Egyptian Copts. Translated:
Sawa: Dozens of the Coptic organization in Egypt have denounced the movie.
Filmmaker: They have the right to do so, and they have nothing to do with the movie and I have nothing to do with them. I want to say that I did not come up with any information other than what is written in the Islamic books. I added nothing of my own.
Sawa: Have you read the Quran?
Filmmaker: Of course I have read the Quran, the Hadiths and more that 3,000 Islamic books. Sawa: Do you believe that that only Islam has negative sides? What are your views about Judaism and Christianity, for example?
Filmmaker: I am an average reader about other religions and I can write about Judaism and Christianity if I ever resume writing.
It must be difficult to juggle one’s time between a massive credit card fraud operation and reading 3,000 Islamic books!
The idea that Nakoula made this film to highlight the plight of Egyptian Copts or even to “teach” anyone about Islam strains credulity. His lifetime of crime suggests a personality of no integrity. The notion that the film was financed by his wife’s Egyptian relatives must also be questioned. Why would he endanger his own family? Egyptian Copts have enough trouble with the new Muslim Brotherhood government already. The last thing they need now is negative attention.
The “Christians” he recruited in this effort, Stephen Klein and Pastor Jones are perfect patsies for a false flag operation. Blinded by their own zealotry, they supported this mindless film, making them, and by extension all Christians, look like a bunch of idiots. At the same time, it has provided an excuse for radical Muslims worldwide to go on an anti-American, anti-Christian tirade.
Indeed, Morris Sadek, a Coptic Christian closely associated with Jones who helped promote the film, is considered a major headache by Egyptian Copts. "Every single thing he says is used by Islamists to justify terrorism against Copts," said Cynthia Farahat, director of advocacy for Coptic Solidarity, a DC-based group. The group stated, “As his actions agitate more the Islamic extremists, some people wonder if he is not in fact working to fulfill their agenda." According to Huffington Post, Sadek sent an email to journalists on September 6th promoting Jones’ upcoming “International Judge Mohammad Day,” along with a copy of the trailer which he translated into Arabic.
Finally, Nakoula was represented in court by James Henderson, Sr. Henderson is a prominent attorney and former Justice Department prosecutor who headed an organized crime task force from 1978 to 1987. How could Nakoula, who claimed in court to have engaged in criminal activity to support his family and earned little from it, hire such a high-powered attorney? Interestingly, in court he spoke through an interpreter, but the film was written and spoken in English—with New York accents no less. And despite his claims of penury, Nakoula lived well in a nice Cerritos, California home, complete with a late model Mercedes S430 parked in the driveway. Somebody was paying him.
Henderson is the right guy for the job. He “maintains working contacts with former U.S. Government attorneys and officials throughout the United States.” His specialties include business fraud, government contract investigations, gaming and “international legal matters.” In the 1980s, Henderson was accused by an informant of having organized crime ties. Although Henderson was cleared of this charge, the snitch making the allegation at one time shared a cell with 1993 WTC bomber Ramzi Yousef, and claimed Yousef told him, “Bin Laden will use your own planes to take down the W.T.C.”
None of this adds up, unless this film had the one specific purpose for which it has been used. Such a film need not be well done. It only needs to provide a pretext. In that regard it has performed admirably.
Despite his many aliases, Nakoula is obviously known to the feds. Did they know of his film production? The local police apparently did. Are the feds uncomfortable with exploring the possibility that this film was part of a premeditated provocation by Muslim terrorists? Were they taken for a ride by this “informant?” Why did the U.S. insist for weeks that the recent Middle East attacks were the result of this film when they knew better? Is this yet another effort by the Obama administration to find a pretext to suppress free speech? Islamic leaders in America are already calling for legislation limiting free speech. Why has the FBI still not departed for Libya? Are they afraid of what they might find, or is someone else afraid of what they might find?
This administration has much to answer for regarding this deadly attack and for that matter many other things. Despite its pledge to be the most “transparent” administration in history, if past is prologue, honest answers are not likely to be forthcoming soon.
James Simpson is a former Office of Management and Budget (White House budget office) economist and budget analyst. He is currently a businessman and freelance writer.